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Abigail Wu earns Youth Tour trip

You’re a member of a cooperative. Do you know what that means?

Abigail Wu, a junior at Century High School, was unfamiliar with cooperatives and their unique business model in which the members, or consumers, are also the owners. Interested in entering an essay-writing contest hosted by her family’s electric cooperative — and hoping to win a free trip to Washington, D.C. — Abigail started researching and asking people questions about what they knew about cooperatives. What she learned, or didn’t learn, astonished her.

“I was, to say the least, surprised when many cultured and intelligent people replied that they did not know about electric cooperatives, except that they provided electricity. Others did not even know what an electric cooperative was,” she says.

Abigail entered Capital Electric Cooperative’s essay-writing contest, which required her to answer this question: “If you were asked to influence other students your age to become more actively involved in their electric cooperative — including attendance at the electric cooperative annual meeting — what would you tell them, and why?”

The daughter of Capital Electric members Zongjian Wu and Fengchun Zhao, Abigail wrote that while cooperatives exist to provide affordable, reliable and safe electric service, the co-ops and their members do much more. She noted how the consumers own the cooperative and can help influence the direction of the cooperative by voting for the board of directors at the annual meeting.

“The tradition of democracy is a legacy in America, and it is extended to having a vote in the cooperative. Capital Electric aspires to benefit its member-owners, and it definitely does,” she wrote.

Abigail also learned there is a strong connection between cooperative and community. She started reading the “North Dakota Living” magazine when she moved to North Dakota with her family in 2007. The magazine is a communications tool utilized by North Dakota’s Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives, to share industry-specific news and events of importance to member-owners. The magazine also features a column for teenagers in which students can write and express their beliefs. Abigail applied for a position as a teen writer last year and was hired. She wrote about diversity and presented an interesting, open minded viewpoint on stereotypes. She says the experience gave her confidence, real-life writing experience, and a real-life paycheck.

“Offering opportunities like the Teen-2-Teen column, as well as scholarships, connect youth to the cooperative,” she wrote.

Now well-versed on electric cooperatives, Abigail encourages her peers and others — including the cooperative’s member-owners — to better understand the depth and breadth of what electric cooperatives do.

“I believe that knowledge is power, and with power comes influence and change. The younger generation, my generation, will soon be the future. I believe that students are constantly looking for ways to be heard and opportunities to contribute to society, and if they know about the many opportunities that being active in their electric cooperative provides, they would be eager to participate,” her essay concludes.

Abigail won the essay-writing contest and earned the all-expense-paid trip, courtesy of the Capital Electric membership. On the tour scheduled for June 13 to 19, she will see the grand architecture, meaningful monuments and fast-paced people. In addition to touring attractions including the U.S. Capitol, Arlington Cemetery, Mount Vernon, and the Smithsonian museum and research complex, Abigail will learn more about the cooperative business model, U.S. history and American government.

The North Dakota students also meet our state’s congressional delegation.

Born in Virginia and raised in California and North Dakota, Abigail says she is very excited for the tour. Having already studied AP U.S. History, Abigail says touring the museums and monuments will mean a lot more because of what she has already learned.

“It’s about knowledge. If you know about it, you feel connected to it. The closer you feel to the subject, the more important it will be to you,” she says.

In addition to being studious and taking challenging classes, Abigail is quite active in school and around the community. She plays soccer and enjoys music theory and choir. Fluent in Mandarin Chinese, she’s also a member of the Spanish club and the Century High School’s chapter of the National Honor Society. Abigail is also active in her church, Evangel Assembly of God, where she participates in the fine arts and volunteers with kids. Because of her commitment to community, she received the Outstanding Volunteer Award for 75 or more hours of community service.

Capital Electric Cooperative congratulates Abigail for winning the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour essay contest and trip, and thanks her for helping to educate our member-owners about how cooperative and community connect to unite and benefit for the greater good. After Abigail returns from Washington, D.C., we’ll visit with her again and learn the trip’s highlights.


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