Rural Missouri - June 2018 - 12
photo by Jim McCarty
Chantel Schuering is on the far left in this photo from the 1987 Youth Tour. Along with the others pictured, she was sponsored by Three Rivers Electric Co-op.
A Reunion of Sorts
Volunteers brought back happy memories for Chantel Schuering
by Michael W. Kahn | email@example.com
was happy to see several fellow Midwesterners. "We had old home week, where
I visited with people from Missouri and Indiana and Illinois."
"It just made my day that people knew what it was."
Although her Youth Tour experience was three decades ago, when asked
whether it influenced her life, Chantel doesn't hesitate.
"It had a huge impact. I don't even have to think twice about it," she says.
"First of all, it was my first airplane ride. That's a big deal when you're a rural
kid from Belle, Missouri," she says.
Meeting Missouri's two U.S. senators "changed my whole idea about politics
and what politicians were," says Chantel, who went on to double major in communications and political science at Drury University in Springfield.
Youth Tour and Missouri Scholars Academy "were my ticket to something
bigger," she says. "They were my ticket to understanding that I could use my
roots to go other places, and do really great things, and meet new people."
And to this day, no visit to the nation's capital can rival Youth Tour.
"That trip to Washington, D.C., really opened my eyes and really had a huge
impact. I've gone back several times since, and I love the city, but that first time
there will always be incredibly special."
That's no surprise to Lynn Moore, Touchstone Energy executive director.
"The cooperative difference is how we treat our members, how we collaborate
and how we build communities," says Moore. "Youth Tour is more than a free
trip to Washington, D.C. It's an experience that creates a lasting impression
and a reason our youth would want to be
part of a cooperative. If you're looking for
ideas to engage younger members, Youth
Tour instills roots and the hope for a better
Schuering moved to California 16 years
ago. Although she's 1,600 miles from Belle,
Missouri, Youth Tour is never far away.
She's still in touch with some of the others
who went that year.
"They're all doing great things. They're
teachers, public officials, business owners,
lawyers," she says. "We do go out into the
world and do things."
To the co-ops involved, Chantel's message is simple: "Please continue it." She's
even familiar with the next generation of
Youth Tour kids.
"My best friend from high school - her
son went last year."
photo courtesy of Stephen Reasonover
isitors to the Palm Springs, California, area sometimes volunteer at the
FIND Food Bank, where Chantel Schuering welcomes everyone. But one
recent group got more than a few extra hugs. In fact, before they even
arrived, the name on the paperwork took Schuering back three decades
- to her 1987 "trip of a lifetime" on the Youth Tour to Washington, D.C. sponsored by Missouri's electric cooperatives and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
Youth Tour creates the next generation of leaders by bringing rural youth
to the nation's capital for an intense experience. Missouri will bring its largest
group ever to the nation's capital this month.
Touchstone Energy Cooperatives wanted to do a service project during a
recent CEO Close-Up in California. The convention and visitors bureau put
them in touch with FIND, where Schuering works with volunteer groups.
"In the fine print I saw it was the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. And I thought to myself, 'Oh my gosh. I love it,' " she recalls.
"It was completely random that all of this came together."
Long before arriving in Indio, California, where she's FIND's community relations director, Schuering was a Missouri girl. "I went to high school in Belle, so
Three Rivers was my electric co-op," she says.
As a rising high school junior, she participated in Missouri Scholars Academy, an annual summer program for gifted
students. When the essay contest for a
chance to go on Youth Tour came up a year
later, "I didn't think twice." It's a trip she
Schuering didn't say anything to the
folks at Touchstone Energy ahead of time
about her Youth Tour connection. But
when the 30 co-op volunteers arrived Jan.
9, she introduced herself to Anne Harvey,
Touchstone Energy's director of member
relations, and told her.
"She lit up like a Christmas tree," says
Harvey knew what having a Youth Tour
alum in their midst would mean to the coop volunteers, and she made sure they
"The whole group - everyone in the
room - that was there volunteering knew
what the Youth Tour was and gave me a Participants in the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives service project during CEO Close-Up
big round of applause," says Chantel, who help out at the FIND Food Bank where Chantel Schuering works.
RURAL MISSOURI | JUNE 2018
Kahn is a staff writer for NRECA.