The 60th Annual Youth Leadership Conference (YLC) took place at UW-Stout in July, with 73 young people in attendance representing 15 Wisconsin electric cooperatives. During the three-day event, attendees learned about electric cooperatives and the 7 Cooperative Principles, as well as leadership skills and networking, all in a campus setting. The 2023-2024 Youth Board was also elected. Of the seven youth elected, two were Rock Energy Cooperative members, Thomas Peters and Jayden Mosley.
Those elected to the Youth Board serve in a leadership position working to engage more young people with electric cooperatives, they lead the planning of the 2024 Youth Leadership Conference, and they have the opportunity to participate in the 2024 Youth Tour of Washington, D.C.
Fourteen YLC attendees ran for the Youth Board this year, delivering spirited and entertaining speeches to the group, making their case on why they would be good candidates. Six of the candidates were elected, plus one alternate.
2023-24 Youth Board Members:
- Carson Welter, Oakdale Electric Cooperative
- Thomas Peters, Rock Energy Cooperative
- Mya Petersen, Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services
- Helen Clements, Vernon Electric Cooperative
- Jayden Mosley, Rock Energy Cooperative
- Ryther Gehrke, Richland Electric Cooperative
- Johnah Vircks (alternate), Clark Electric Cooperative
Activities this year at YLC also included a presentation from Packer great Gilbert Brown, “The Gravedigger;” a motivational team-building presentation by motivational speaker and author Craig Hillier; a safe driving presentation; an etiquette dinner; a hypnotist; and a presentation about cooperative careers from Beth Knudson, NRECA youth programs and training manager. The youth groups also produced their own videos demonstrating cooperative principles.
“What an incredible experience,” said Barb Miller, Rock Energy Cooperative director and WECA board member, who attended YLC for the first time. “Kids are networking, they’re learning leadership, and all about what a co-op is about, at a very young age. This event is very well organized and an advantage for all co-ops. Compliments to everybody that’s involved.” On Thursday as YLC was wrapping up, Miller gathered a group of young people, including those from Rock Energy, and asked about their takeaways. All responses were positive.
“YLC has changed the trajectory of my life,” said Youth Board member Emma Steinke. Emma, a Rock Energy member, was selected to represent Wisconsin youth at the 2024 NRECA Annual Meeting.
Pictured above is the 2023-24 YLC Board. Front (from left): Helen Clements, Vernon Electric Cooperative; and Mya Petersen, Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services. Back (from left): Thomas Peters, Rock Energy Cooperative; Jayden Mosley, Rock Energy Cooperative; Carson Welter, Oakdale Electric Cooperative; Johnah Vircks (alternate), Clark Electric Cooperative; and Ryther Gehrke, Richland Electric Cooperative.