Corn Belt Energy Youth Tour participant wins nationwide grant contest

Kaelan_smith_crCorn Belt Energy CEO Don Taylor announced that Kaelan Smith from Clinton won a nationwide ­student ­service project grant contest. With the $500 grant, Smith will organize and host an autism awareness fair. The grant program was coordinated in partnership with ­generationOn, a global youth service organization.

“Students are our beacon of hope for the future,” Don Taylor said. “For 55 years, Illinois’ electric cooperatives have invested in our students by hosting an annual youth tour in Washington, D.C. – allowing some of our best and brightest students to gain first-hand insight. This grant program builds on that investment, and gives our students the tools to expand their resume while applying what they’ve learned to directly benefit their community.

“Kaelan Smith’s project will allow him to give back to the community and learn ­valuable hands-on leadership skills at the same time. We’re honored to be able to help Kaelan give back, and look forward to ­watching him grow into a future leader.”

The autism awareness fair will have a focus on bullying and self-esteem issues that students living with autism face at school. The fair will also address how a student living with autism is labeled by others and themselves. Smith hopes to work with the Clinton Rotary Club and the Clinton Community High School Interact Club to host the fair in the spring of 2015.

Grant winners were chosen from a pool of applicants, all of whom participated in the 2014 Electric Cooperative Youth Tour.