As a non-for-profit, Kankakee Valley REMC (KV REMC) is able to take that extra step and go beyond just being an electric provider. They seek ways to help the next generation of cooperative member-consumers too.
KV REMC offers an array of opportunities for the youth of Northwest Indiana. Opportunities like educational trips to Washington D.C., summer camp, art contests, and scholarship programs allow KV REMC to connect to a younger generation.
“Some of the youth we’ve connected with started by attending Touchstone Energy Camp as a sixth-grader, then went on Youth Tour as a junior in high school and finished their high school career as an Operation Round Up scholarship recipient,” said Amanda Steeb, Director of Communication and Marketing at KV REMC. “We’ve been fortunate to have youth see the value in the programs we offer and take advantage of the opportunities. They are getting a chance to know of us as more than just an electric company.”
Steeb says the Youth Tour to Washington D.C. is not just a local program. More than 1500 students from across American take part in the program annually.
“This program is available to juniors in high school. Once students go through the application process and are selected, they receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the nation’s capital,” Steeb said. “This experience gives students the opportunity to learn about government, see our nation’s rich history, visit national monuments, and have the opportunity to learn more about electric co-ops.”
First consideration for the Youth Tour is given to the sons, daughters, or legal wards of Kankakee Valley REMC’s member-consumers. Applications for the Youth Tour must be submitted by March 2.
KV REMC also invites sixth graders to apply to attend Touchstone Energy Camp at Camp Tecumseh in Brookston, Indiana. If selected, these students attend an all-expenses-paid summer camp at the beginning of June. At camp students get to enjoy activities like horseback riding, rock climbing, zip-lining, canoeing, and swimming. The application deadline for Touchstone Energy Camp is March 2.
“Touchstone Energy Camp incorporates traditional camp fun with learning about energy and electrical safety,” Steeb said. “The idea behind these opportunities is not only for the experience of going to Washington D.C. and Camp Tecumseh, but to also educate our youth about the unique business model of electric cooperatives.”
Through the Operation Round Up Trust program offered through Kankakee Valley REMC, the cooperative is able to provide graduating high school seniors with Operation Round Up Scholarships. These scholarships are only available to students planning to continue their education in the fall at a college, university, or trade school. A total of six Operation Round Up scholarships will be awarded: two for $2,000 and four for $1,000.
The Operation Round Up Trust program, started in 2000, gives Kankakee Valley REMC member-consumers the opportunity to round-up their electric bills each month with the extra charge going to help non-profits through grants and provide youth with scholarships. Through this program, more than $1 million has gone back into the community through grants.
“Fire and police departments, food pantries, and domestic abuse shelters are just some of the organizations that have received a grant,” Steeb said. “Grants are reviewed quarterly by a volunteer board of directors who are KV REMC member-consumers and active community leaders."
To be eligible for an Opportunity Round Up scholarship, the students' parents or legal guardians must be KV REMC member-consumers and be participating in the programs as of February 4, 2020. Applications are to be submitted by March 4 at 3:30 p.m. CST.
Last year the cooperative launched its first internship program to allow students to get "real world" experience in an electric cooperative.
"There are so many important layers to our organization. Our youth could be future cooperative member-consumers or board members of our organization. We believe through the internship program we can educate them about our organization and help them achieve their career goal," said Steeb. "We hope to expand the program this year to allow for more students to intern in various departments."
To learn more about Kankakee Valley REMC and its youth programs, visit their website.