Janel Meldrum, a senior at Pahranagat Valley High School, took second place in a national contest this summer in Washington D.C.
Sponsored by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, she was selected to represent the state of Nevada after she and two other girls from Lincoln County (Savannah Harr and Chesnee Harding) took a youth tour to D.C. and attended meetings there in June. They were joined by others from Valley Electric Association in Pahrump, Mt. Wheeler Electric, Overton Power District and Wells Rural Electric.
Meldrum first went on a youth tour of Washington D.C. sponsored by the Lincoln County Power District No.1, and in part by the Nevada Rural Electric Association. Lincoln County Power is a member of the NRECA. Later she was chosen as the state delegate to the Youth Leadership Council national meetings held in mid-July.
Meldrum said last December, PVHS principal Mike Strong explained the power district program to the junior class and said those who were interested for the NRECA Youth Tour could submit applications. “I was the only one from Alamo who turned in an application,” she said, “and I ended up going with a couple of other girls, from Lincoln County High.”
Lincoln County Power District No. 1 general manager Dave Luttrell explained they have been a longtime member of the NRECA but had not ever participated in the youth tour program, “This year we decided to participate. Our board felt it was a great program to introduce youth to leadership activities and government, as well as to give students a better understanding of the need for and importance of rural electric utilities in terms of how we operate and function and deal with local government. Maybe some might even think of rural utilities as a career or a role they might have in it.”
He explained that rural utilities are different than urban utilities that might be run by private companies. “Most of the utilities that serve metropolitan areas are businesses owned by investors (i.e. NV Energy). Rural utilities, by in large, are a non-profit model, governed by local elected officials, local boards, operating for the benefit of our consumers, not for the profit of shareholders. The main concept of the NRECA program is to help students understand the difference between the two models of electric utilities in the United States.”
The youth tour program has been going on since the 1960s, Luttrell said, but LCPD had just never taken part until now
After attending the Youth Leadership Council meetings, the chaperons of the trip felt Meldrum would be a good candidate as the Nevada representative to the NRECA national meetings in July in Washington D.C., and she was encouraged to accept the invitation.
The representatives from 47 other states at the NRECA met at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Washington D.C. and also spent three days giving short speeches to a select panel of former YLC members. ”We met with the Chief Executive Officer of the NRECA and others, and each day we also spent from between 90 minutes to three hours listening to speeches from the various state representatives, spread over three days, not all at once. It was interesting and the speeches were all really good. We didn’t have any time on this trip to do sightseeing. I had done that on the Youth Tour the month before,” she said.
Judging for the national contest was based on content and presentation, Meldrum said. “I talked about how the youth tour and my experiences then had inspired me, made me feel more patriotic and made me realize that I wanted to reach my goals, but I didn’t elaborate on what those are.”
At the closing ceremonies and dinner for the national meetings, the top three speech awards were announced. Meldrum was first runner up to a boy from Alabama. “I didn’t see that mine was that good, but I guess it was there,” she said.
No prizes, plaques, ribbons, or medals were given out for participating in the contest, but Meldrum said the first place winner will be invited to give his speech at the 2016 convention, and she also expects to be invited, along with the third place person, to attend the 2016 NRECA nationals in New Orleans in February.