Student Leaders Receive Electric Cooperative Youth Tour Scholarships

Three phenomenal high school student leaders representing Surry-Yadkin EMC, Blue Ridge Energy and EnergyUnited were recently selected as 2022 Youth Tour Scholarship Recipients. These scholarships are bestowed annually to support the first year of post-secondary education for distinguished students who participated in the annual Electric Cooperative Youth Tour. These scholars were chosen because they possess profound leadership skills and share North Carolina’s electric cooperatives’ strong commitment to their communities.

The 2022 Youth Tour Scholarship winners are:

  • Kaesi Blythe, representing Surry-Yadkin EMC, is the recipient of the $2,000 Katie Bunch Memorial Scholarship. Blythe is a senior at Surry Central High School and plans to attend North Carolina State University to study Veterinary Science.
  • Karlie Keepfer, representing Blue Ridge Energy, is the recipient of the $2,500 Gwyn B. Price Scholarship. Keepfer is a senior at Alleghany High School and plans to attend North Carolina State University to study Construction Engineering.
  • Madeline Hiteshue, representing EnergyUnited, is the recipient of the $2,000 Youth Leadership Council (YLC) Scholarship. Hiteshue is a senior at Pine Lake Preparatory School and is still deciding which university to attend to study Political Science and Criminal Justice.

Youth Tour scholarship winners (L-R) Kaesi Blythe, Madeline Hiteshue, Karlie Keepfer.

During the Youth Tour to Washington D.C. last summer, the scholarship winners joined over 40 tourists from North Carolina to walk the halls of our nation’s Capitol, interact with elected officials and synthesize their own ambitions from the inspiration that surrounded them. Youth Tourists not only witnessed democratic government working in real-time, but they also enhanced their leadership and networking skills while gaining a greater understanding of the cooperative business model.

Keepfer, who represented Blue Ridge Energy at the Youth Tour, said she found inspiration in her local cooperative’s commitment to community following her Youth Tour experience.

“I have learned that Blue Ridge Energy is so much more than a power provider,” Keepfer said. “I have realized how vested they are in our community, which is why I was honored to be appointed the youth representative on Blue Ridge Energy’s Member Advisory Committee.”

Paul Mott, Youth Tour director and government affairs specialist for North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives, commended the scholarship recipients’ commitment to service.

“Kaesi, Karlie and Madeline are identifying local needs and creating positive change within their communities,” Mott said. “We are proud to recognize their accomplishments, and we can’t wait to see all of the great things they will go on to do.”

For more than 50 years, electric cooperatives in North Carolina and across the country have sent student leaders on the Youth Tour to Washington, D.C. At this annual event, tourists make connections with fellow student leaders from across the nation, meet congressional representatives, tour national museums and historic monuments, while fostering confidence and building lifelong friendships. This once-in-a-lifetime leadership experience also enhances college applications and provides access to several scholarship opportunities. Applications for the program are accepted in the fall. To learn more about Youth Tour, visit