Callahan headshot
By Michael Callahan
August 2023

This past June, 81 high school juniors from all over the state represented Mississippi in Washington, D.C. for a week at the 2023 NRECA Youth Tour.

mid day White House

If you read the first quote at the bottom of this column, you can see the kind of impact a trip like this can have on our young people.

Emma Thomas is obviously somebody who has plans in the future to become a leader. Whether that turns out to be as a public servant in Washington, D.C., a state or local elected official in Mississippi, or as a local business owner or volunteer back home, we all need the Emma Thomases of the world to step up and give their time and talents to the betterment of our communities.

That’s what the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi’s youth leadership program is all about, and it’s a responsibility that electric co-ops take seriously.

That’s why local co-ops fully fund the program, which instills leadership skills, inspires creative thinking, encourages community service, and introduces students to lawmakers that represent their communities.

Maybe a youth leadership program student saw the Lincoln Memorial for the first time on this trip. Maybe a student had a life-changing conversation with Mississippi’s U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith.

We want the young people of our communities to learn, grow and experience, so they can contribute to the future of our state.

The trip to D.C. and the future of the state should also reminds us about the importance of our members voting.

A primary election for statewide officials is being held this month with the general election set for Nov. 7.

One of the ways all of us can contribute to the future of Mississippi is by voting.

To that end, we have created an initiative and website that gives you all the information you need to make an informed vote. 

Co-ops Vote MS is the initiative. The message is this:

You have the POWER to

Register. Be Informed. Vote.

When our youth leadership students visited the many memorials and museums in our nation’s capital city, they learned about the sacrifices those who came before us made so we can exercise our right to vote.

Don’t let those sacrifices go to waste. 


Visit Co-ops Vote MS at
for more information about how to exercise this precious right


“This was a dream, and I don’t say that metaphorically. Washington, D.C. is where I plan to work. It’s where I plan to create a better nation through politics. To be able to see this place with other Mississippi leaders is a privilege. I’m so incredibly grateful for Southern Pine Electric and Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi for this life changing experience.”

— Emma Thomas
2023 Youth Tour student
Southern Pine Electric



“The opportunity to attend the 2023 NRECA Youth Tour in Washington, D.C., was truly an unforgettable experience. Visiting the monuments, memorials, and museums deepened my appreciation for my freedoms, for those who gave their lives for my freedoms, and my sense of responsibility to help lead my fellow American citizens.”

— Kameryn Bardwell
2023 Youth Tour student
Singing River Electric

Category: Editorial

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