Next Generation of Leaders

Story by Jeff Marshall

Clearwater Power's delegates and chaperone at the formal banquet

6 local youth attended a 5-day leadership conference at The College of Idaho. After a 2-year absence, the Youth Rally actually grew considerably. 19 electric cooperatives sponsored delegates to attend the event. “Awarding scholarships is easier than holding a leadership camp. I was afraid we might lose some participants but instead the event actually grew. It really is an amazing experience,” says Youth Rally Chairman Jeff Marshall.

The Youth Rally offers a chance for youth from small out-of-the-way places in Idaho and throughout the Northwest, to be a part of a life-changing leadership and team-building camp. Its mission is to inspire, pique curiosity, and help attendees find and develop the leadership qualities they possess.

Delegates heard an inspiring message from Nick Hanson, also called “The Eskimo Ninja.” Who overcame a childhood of bullying and ridicule to become a World Eskimo-Indian Olympics champion and a favorite contestant on American Ninja Warrior. “Going through struggles is how you discover yourself,” he says.

They also heard a powerful message from Mike Schlappi who was shot in the chest at age 14 and lost the use of his legs, yet he went on to win four Olympic medals in basketball. Mike says, “I thank God for pain. Without pain, there is no growth.”

Throughout the week, delegates work in teams to solve business and political issues and overcome physical obstacles. Students also learn about the U.S. Government, consumer-owned utilities, and the basics of electricity.

Observers watch for participation, communication and leadership and each student goes through a panel interview. At the end of the week, scholarships are awarded based on each student’s score.

All 6 delegates have earned a scholarship from Clearwater Power. In addition, Zane Uptmor, Ariana Flaig, and Samantha Erks received additional scholarships and cash prizes from ICUA. Znae Uptmor was elected by his peers to return next year as a Youth Director.

The Youth Rally helps foster the next generation of citizens and helps young people understand what leadership is truly about: doing the right thing at the right time, making the tough call, doing the unpopular thing for the right reason, accepting responsibility, and saying no to the poisons of the world while saying yes to yourself!