Alex Rozier loves her small, rural town of Nixville. She just wants to see what is outside of it.
The junior at Wade Hampton High School got to do just that as one of four local student delegates to Cooperative Youth Summit. Palmetto Electric sponsored Rozier, Bella Johnson of Hilton Head Prep and Colin Owen of Heritage Academy. Jack Keller of Hilton Head Island High School was sponsored by The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina.
“There is so much here (in Columbia) that I’ve never seen,” says Rozier. “I want to meet people of different backgrounds and I’ve definitely been able to do that throughout the week.”
The four students were among 45 delegates who toured the State House, met Gov. Henry McMaster and learned about their state government and cooperatives. Cooperative Youth Summit students also learned about political advocacy and civic duty from two state legislators—Rep. Micah Caskey and Rep. Russell Ott.
Rozier and the other student delegates also participated in a mock healthcare legislation exercise. With three different proposals, each side tried to sway votes toward a two-thirds majority vote to pass the faux legislation. Cooperative Youth Summit students also teamed up to produce their own podcasts, interviewing legislators and leaders in their community on what makes South Carolina a great place to live and ways it can improve.
“I’m working at being a team player,” Rozier says. “I want to see why people think the way they do. If we want to make a difference in our communities, this was a really good experience.”
The students traveled to Newberry Electric Cooperative, a visit highlighted by a lift in one of the NEC’s boom truck buckets, which are typically used in maintenance and restoration work on utility poles. They also saw the cooperative’s community solar farm and learned about how the cooperative has made high-speed broadband available to its entire membership.
Student delegates also participated in the Soda Pop Co-op, which sold snacks and beverages. Some students served as the cooperative’s board members. Others were a part of the management team. All students received cashback as their share of the end-of-the-trip margins. The exercise allowed the students to learn first-hand how the not-for-profit co-op business model works.