Nothing can dim the light that shines from within,” said the famous American poet, Maya Angelou. Today, more than ever, we need young leaders to be the light and guidance for their peers.

Rachel Goven

Rachel Goven

Being selected by McLean Electric Cooperative to attend the annual Youth Tour to our nation’s capital has made me find my light. In Washington, D.C., I was privileged to tour the Capitol, visit the grand Smithsonian museums, and meet Congressman Kevin Cramer and Sen. John Hoeven.

I found myself amazed to be standing directly in one of the most historic places in our country, surrounded by 1,800 kids my own age. I realized that we all had one thing in common – we had the light. We were all determined young leaders, with leadership qualities that grew as we were constantly encouraged throughout the trip. Without the generosity of the electric cooperatives to send all of us from across the country to spend a week together in Washington, D.C., I would have never been inspired to make a difference and be as educated as I am today.

While I was in Washington, D.C., I was selected to be part of the Youth Leadership Council (YLC) and represent North Dakota. Out of the 43 states that participate in the Youth Tour, one YLC delegate is selected from each state and we are privileged enough to take a trip back to Washington, D.C., a month later.

Becoming a YLC delegate has changed me more than I could ever imagine. During the trip, I had to give a speech in front of everyone and really got out of my comfort zone. I am so grateful for that experience, as YLC has really made me come out of my shell, and gave me new leadership skills to use my voice. During our stay, we visited the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association headquarters and listened to many guest speakers and learned even more about electric cooperatives. Overall, the trip was very educational and I had a blast making memories that will stick with me for a lifetime.

Youth Tour has had a huge impact on my life. I went from being quiet and hardly ever voicing my opinion to not being afraid to speak up and make new friends. The other delegates became my second family, and some even became my closest friends. Not only was this trip full of fun adventures, it also was educational and a unique experience.

I encourage all sophomores and juniors to partake in this amazing experience. The trip made my summer of 2018 the best one by far. Youth Tour and YLC helped me find my light. The opportunity is waiting to help you find yours.

Rachel Goven, 16, a junior at Turtle Lake Mercer High School, is involved in student council, book club, pep band, choir leader, yearbook staff, basketball, Dollars for Scholars and Sources of Strength. She enjoys reading and writing, playing various instruments in the church band, traveling, adding to her record collection and spending time with friends and family. Rachel is the daughter of Jill and Gerard Goven. Her family is served by McLean Electric Cooperative.