By Randy Arrington
LURAY, Dec. 27 — Last week’s award presented by the Virginia Cooperative Council was originally scheduled to be announced this fall.
“We usually present this in early October during Cooperative Month,” said Adam Shiflett, “but we wanted to wait for him to come home from college.”
On Dec. 21, Cooperative officials gathered at Page One in Luray with local leaders to present Jack “Alex” White III of Page County with the Young Cooperator Award for 2021. The annual honor recognizes “outstanding cooperative members under age 40.”
“A graduate of a small rural high school and local community college, Alex has received numerous honors. These include serving as Boys Nation Senator from Virginia [and] attending the Sorenson Institute High School Leaders Program at the University of Virginia,” Shiflett said during the presentation. “A self-proclaimed ‘big believer’ in the cooperative model, Alex was sponsored by his local electric co-op, Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative, to participate in the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Youth Tour in 2018.”
Currently a government major at Harvard University and one of Virginia’s youngest delegates to a 2020 national political convention, White said attending the youth tour more than three years ago allowed him to see how government worked and piqued his interest in public service. The tour included a week in Washington, D.C. complete with a tour of the Capitol and other government buildings, as well as several keynote speakers.
“The first person from his rural community to enroll in an Ivy League school as an undergraduate, he founded the Rural Leadership Initiative, a nonprofit offering a stipend program to support rural undergraduate students at our nation’s elite schools,” Shiflett continued in his presentation. “Alex consistently works to be an advocate for rural areas, and became Virginia’s youngest government official at the time of his appointment to the Page County
Economic Development Authority.”
Last week’s ceremony was held at Page One in Luray because of White’s volunteer efforts at the non-profit facility’s food bank — a “job” he went straight to after the award presentation.
“The Young Cooperator Award comes with a $500 stipend. Reflecting his concern for community, a key cooperative principle, Alex donated his award to Page One, a nonprofit that uses diverse forms of fundraising, including thrift stores, yards sales and donations from area churches, to provide vital family assistance and shelter to Page County residents since 1977,” Shiflett said on Dec. 21. “Having served as an assistant manager for Page One’s food pantry, he knows firsthand the difference that his award donation will make in his community.”
White was nominated for the Young Cooperator Award by Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative (SVEC), to which his family belongs. The college student said his donation of the $500 award back to his local community just seemed like the right thing to do.
“Having served as an assistant manager for the Page One Food Pantry, I know the funds given as part of this award will be put to great use to help my community,” White said. “I really appreciate the cooperative model. We need cooperatives for everything.”
The mission of the Virginia Cooperative Council is to promote understanding of farmer and consumer-owned cooperative businesses across Virginia and their contributions to the state economy through youth and adult education. Formerly the Virginia Council of Farmer Cooperatives, this not-for-profit organization started in 1962 and is headquartered in Richmond.
To learn more about the Council and Virginia Institute of Cooperative Education, to be held March 25-26, 2022, please visit www.virginia.coop .
Also, SVEC members, who are juniors in high school, interested in applying for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Youth Tour June 20-24, 2022 in Williamsburg, Va. check out the link below for an application.
The deadline for applications is Feb. 16, 2022.