STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
Pam Parkman, executive director of the Marble Falls Education Foundation, knew the ideal Marble Falls High School student to enter in the Pedernales Electric Cooperative Youth Tour competition: junior Kenadee Stewart.
“She found me and said, ‘Kenadee, you need to apply for this leadership tour,’” Stewart said. “‘It will introduce you to the next generation of leaders. You get to see some historical landmarks in our nation’s history.’”
Believing it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., Stewart applied. She was one of 100 students who each submitted five essays for consideration.
The PEC selection committee chose Stewart and nine other students to represent the area later this summer.
Stewart said the essays weren’t easy to write. She enlisted the help of her parents, Kara and Shane Stewart, as well as her agriculture science teacher, Mikayla Wenzel.
The topics included the cooperative’s involvement in each student’s community; a personal quality the student possesses that makes them a good representative; and a question the student would ask an elected official from Texas if they had the chance.
Stewart wrote about PEC’s commitment to helping the area after the October flood and how many employees showed up early and stayed late to assist and its involvement with Marble Falls Walkway of Lights and how that’s a huge draw for visitors and residents. Regarding a personal quality, she wrote about her desire to learn and be involved in all aspects of leading. And because social media has changed the way people communicate, she wrote that she’d like to ask an elected official how they have adjusted their communication strategy with their voters.
The essays were due in December. About a month later, PEC representatives appeared at Marble Falls High School to announce Stewart’s selection.
Stewart is one of 156 delegates from Texas who will spend the week in the nation’s capital.
Electric cooperatives from across the state participate in youth tour program, but none will send more than PEC.
“PEC, by far, has the largest service area,” Stewart said.
The student believes this trip will help her make informed decisions on voting and give her a better understand of how the federal government works. It also wouldn’t surprise her if some students on the trip discover a calling to run for office for one day.
“They want to recognize student-leaders in communities and give them an opportunity to see they can lead outside the school,” Stewart said about why electric cooperatives support the youth tour program.
The Youth Tour program started in 1957 when then-Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson urged the directors and staff members of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association to bring young people to the nation’s capital to see firsthand how the federal government operates. PEC has participated in the program for more than six decades.
Stewart is developing her own leadership skills. She is president of Marble Falls High School’s FFA and a member of the Interact Club, which is the youth club’s version of Rotary International.
In college, she plans to major in marketing and minor in business.