More than 60 teens from approximately 17 cooperatives convened in Menomonie July 12-14, 2022 for the in person return of the Youth Leadership Congress (YLC). Youth ranging from freshmen to seniors gathered for the three-day event focused on helping shape future leaders of the cooperative world and beyond. YLC was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. It was held virtually in 2021. This was the first year the event was held at UW-Stout. Taylor Electric was represented by Theodore Robisch, son of Matthew and Sara Robisch, Rib Lake.
“This was a fantastic and engaged group of kids who really took advantage of all of the opportunities provided to them this year,” said Tina Walden, WECA youth coordinator. “It was great to be back in person, to see them interacting and building relationships. We could not have asked for a better transition year as we work to get back up to full strength next year, because all electric co-op kids should have this opportunity.”
During their time at YLC, the youth and chaperones stayed in the dorms at UW-Stout and experienced life on a college campus. Taylor Electric Board Member, Cheri Klussendorf helped chaperone the event. Many of the activities were hands-on experiences aimed at strengthening leadership skills. Presentations included an appearance by Will Tuchtenhagen, former YLC board member and recipient of the 2021 Glenn English National Cooperative Leadership Foundation's $10,000 Scholarship, and a session on “breakthrough leadership” by motivational speaker and author Craig Hillier.
The youth attended a career fair and spoke with representatives from various organizations about potential cooperative careers, watched a safety presentation that focused on the dangers of texting and driving and what to do if you are in an accident and come into contact with power lines or equipment, participated in an etiquette dinner, and did team-building activities. All young people attending YLC are eligible to enter the WECA essay contest, which offers scholarship money to the top three winners.
The teens attending the event had the opportunity to run for Youth Board, which includes gathering signatures, conducting interviews, and delivering a speech before the group-wide vote at the conclusion of the event. Theodore was elected to the board and will help plan the 2023 Youth Leadership Congress. Youth Board members will also be invited to attend the 2023 NRECA Youth Tour in Washington, D.C., next summer and will return to YLC in 2023 as team leaders. Congratulations Theodore!!
Attached here is a hand-written thank you from Theodore!