Youth education: Investing in a brighter Tennessee

Many of you are probably aware that Fayetteville Public Utilities maintains an ongoing presence in our local schools. From conducting in-person classroom
demonstrations to providing online educational resources to teachers, your children know more about how electricity works and how to stay safe around it — thanks to experiences and information provided by FPU.But what some folks may not realize is just how deep our commitment is when it comes to reaching out to young people. Since our establishment, we have provided educational opportunities to a number of groups — customers, elected officials, directors, community leaders and employees. But perhaps none of our outreach efforts has been more impactful than those directed toward youth.
We’ve built a strong relationship with local school systems by providing interesting and age-appropriate energy education that engages students while helping their teachers meet core standards. Though the bulk of these presentations are made to local students, FPU also shares energy education information with scout groups, college students, groups of homeschoolers and those attending STEM camps and summer library programs.
One of our signature offerings has been sponsoring area high school juniors on a weeklong, expense-paid trip to visit our nation’s capital — along with the opportunity to win scholarships.
Although the Washington Youth Tour had to be canceled for a second time due to the pandemic, we hope to offer the trip again in 2022. Participants see places of cultural and historical significance, network with their peers from across Tennessee and the U.S. and get a deeper understanding of and appreciation for our system of government. They also come away from the experience with a feel for just how important rural utilities are to the communities they serve. A similar, closer-to-home experience is offered when we make it possible for students from our service area to attend the annual three-day Youth Leadership Summit in Nashville.
We also offer high school seniors a chance to participate on our Student Utility Board. These students from Lincoln County High School, Fayetteville High School and Riverside Christian Academy get a behind-the-scenes look at how each department at FPU works together to best serve the community.
As wonderful as these opportunities are, there is an underlying reason for our involvement with youth outreach that goes beyond the fundamentals of utility education. The fact is, many of the young people impacted by FPU’s educational efforts will grow up and start families of their own right here in Lincoln County. Today’s students become tomorrow’s consumers — and the next generation of our customers. As the years pass, a number of these young people will step up and become leaders in their communities. Some may even come to work for us or provide service as a member of the board of directors. With each new generation, FPU’s responsibility continues — to help those we serve understand the power of rural utilities and to build a brighter community.