SEC’s YouthTECH earns national honor

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SEC’s YouthTECH earns national honor

Southside Electric Cooperative’s YouthTECH event that provided laptop computers to a dozen students last summer has won national recognition.

YouthTECH earned a silver award for best event in the 2022 Spotlight on Excellence Awards program sponsored by the Council of Rural Electric Communicators and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. The awards were announced in April. Winners were recognized at a national conference for communications and marketing professionals in Seattle in May.

SEC’s Member and Public Relations Department developed YouthTECH after the annual Electric Cooperative Youth Tour to Washington, D.C., was canceled due to the pandemic. Twelve high school juniors received their choice of a Dell personal computer or Apple MacBook. The laptops were presented at a special event in Crewe last August for students and their families that also included remarks by former 5th District Congressman Robert Hurt and Cooperative leaders, an interactive social media project and lunch.

“We are ecstatic to receive a national honor for YouthTECH,” says Ron White, vice president of member and public relations. “The project was another of the several ways that SEC shows its support for students and education across the 18-county service area. We knew a new laptop would be a wonderful resource for students as they completed high school and pursued future interests.”

youthechMember and Public Relations staff Joy Stump and Mark Thomas led the YouthTECH project with assistance from other members of the department. Thomas’ wife Molly, a high school physics teacher, suggested the idea of providing laptops.

Receiving laptops were Bethany Duncan, Liberty High School in Bedford; Jasmine Harris, Prince Edward County High School; Peyton Coleman, Amelia County High School; Olivia Oen, Jefferson Forest High School in Bedford; Jacob Stallard, Kenston Forest in Nottoway; Julianna Crawford, Rustburg High School in Campbell; Mason Kinne, Prince Edward County High School; William Cousins, Dinwiddie High School; Braden Cliborne, Nottoway High School; Mariah Paras, Cumberland High School; Savannah Maloughney, Dinwiddie High School; and Hans Rehme, Powhatan High School.

YouthTECH was open to any 11th-grade student living and attending school in one of SEC’s 18 counties. Students’ parents did not have to be SEC members. Students filled out an application and wrote an essay on a personal characteristic they were developing. Twenty-three students applied.

The annual Spotlight on Excellence Awards program recognizes the best communication and marketing efforts by electric cooperatives and related organizations. Entrants competed with electric cooperatives of similar size in 18 categories. Faculty members from the University of Missouri-Columbia and University of South Carolina, as well as noted professionals in marketing, web design, digital communications and newspapers, judged the nearly 600 entries.