June 14–21, 2019
Each year, WECA Member cooperatives sponsor young people for participation in the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association's Youth Tour in Washington, D.C. In June 2018, 14 high school students and recent graduates representing 10 Wisconsin electric cooperatives joined nearly 1,700 others from across the nation for the annual event. Wisconsin’s Federated Youth Foundation, a co-op sponsored, independent charitable organization, provides significant financial support for Youth Tour participation through the proceeds from investments financed by unclaimed co-op patronage credits.Every electric co-op has the opportunity to sponsor students for this educational tour of national monuments and visits with elected officials at their Capitol offices.
July 24–26, 2019
River Falls, Wis.
A key component of WECA's educational programming for young people, the three-day Youth Leadership Congress has been held at UW River Falls each summer since 1963. Last year's Congress attracted more than 122 students sponsored by 17 cooperatives. Activities focus on maximizing leadership potential, understanding cooperatives and co-op governance—the students organize and operate a functioning cooperative during the event—effective communication, and turning mistakes into stepping stones for success. Social media coverage can be viewed by searching #wiscylc2016.
Participating students elect a six-member WECA Youth Board who will help plan the following year's Leadership Congress, have the opportunity to attend the NRECA Youth Tour, and visit the WECA offices and State Capitol legislative offices. A feature of the Youth Congress is the annual WECA Essay Contest. In 2017, more than 30 students, writing on co-op oriented subjects, competed for three scholarships of $1000, $500, and $250, redeemable at any accredited post-secondary educational institution in the U.S.
The event offers a head start in understanding cooperative business principles for the upcoming generation of co-op leaders.