For Lexi Jackson, a rising junior at Washington University whose family endured hardship several years ago, her relationship with her local electric cooperative has been nothing short of life-changing.

As a Youth Tour participant sponsored by White River Valley Electric Cooperative in Branson, Missouri, Jackson was eligible to apply for a Glenn English National Cooperative Leadership Foundation Scholarship. She won the foundation's top award prize: a $10,000 that will enable her to graduate from the St. Louis school debt-free.

"The scholarship is exactly what we needed," said Jackson. "Since my freshman year of high school, I've been researching scholarships. I'll be able to come in the green this year and get money back from Wash U.—enough to apply for my senior year costs. I'm so grateful."

The Great Recession hit the Jackson family hard in 2009, and the effects linger. The housing crisis cost her father, Joel, his custom-home business and the family's Nixa, Missouri, home. To make ends meet, he took on sales jobs, but a car accident left him permanently disabled and unable to work.

When White River EC selected Jackson to attend the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour in 2015, "life changed for the better," she said in her video application for the scholarship. "They recognized a value within me that my life's circumstances had clouded me from seeing."

Now in its fifth year, the foundation has awarded more than $70,000 in scholarships to NRECA Youth Tour alumni. Awards consist of one $10,000 scholarship and four $1,000 scholarships.

The Glenn English scholarships are one of the few sources of private scholarships for current college students. Applicants are required to have completed at one year of college as a full-time student.

"As junior and senior year come up, the opportunities are a lot less," said Nate Thoreson, a 2018 recipient of a $1,000 award who applied for dozens of scholarships before he began attending North Dakota State University. "It's very nice that NRECA has a scholarship specifically for after first-year students."

Get to know more about Jackson, Thoreson and the other 2018 Glenn English scholars:

Alexis "Lexi" Jackson

White River Electric Co-op, Branson, Missouri

Education: Junior at Washington University in St. Louis. Double major in business strategy and political science.

Summer plans: As an intern in NRECA's government relations department, she is working with past Youth Tour participants to set up local voter registration drives as part of the association's involvement in National Voter Registration Day on Sept. 25.

Dream job: U.S. Secretary of Education. "I would love to take a comprehensive look at the U.S. education system and consult with states to design 'best fit' programs for students and their needs."

Hometown and what you like best about it: Nixa, Missouri. "I love the community, how you can go to the grocery store and see someone you know. I'll see my first-grade teacher and connect with her as if no time has passed."

Do you plan to vote this November? "Yes!"

Nathaniel "Nate" Thoreson

Cass County Electric Co-op, Fargo, North Dakota

Education: Rising junior at North Dakota State University in Fargo. Major in marketing and minor in political science.

Summer plans: As an intern in NRECA's government relations/regulatory unit, Thoreson is developing infographics on distributed generation, broadband and other issues for policymakers. He's also part of an informal committee on blockchain technology.

Dream job: Thoreson is a co-founder of Webblen, a community-building platform that incentivizes participation through the use of blockchain-based technology. "I would want Webblen to take off, but if it doesn't work out, lobbying in D.C. sounds really interesting. NRECA has always had my attention for a future workplace."

Hometown and what you like best about it: Fargo, North Dakota. "In North Dakota, in general, there's not a whole lot to do. But in Fargo, it's about a quarter of a million people, so there's a decent amount to do. I really like the whole energy of Fargo in general. It feels like a smaller version of D.C., in a lot of ways, where people are really motivated and doing their own thing."

Do you plan to vote this November? "I absolutely intend to participate in the democratic process and fulfill my democratic obligation to vote."

Jackson Blackwell

Homer Electric Association, Homer, Alaska

Education: Sophomore at Boise State University in Idaho. Double major in political science and economics.

Summer plans: "I'm an associate at an Alaska-based policy and consulting firm, Kallander & Associates, as well as the outreach development coordinator at the Arctic Encounter. The Arctic Encounter is the largest annual Arctic policy conference in the United States. I'm also field coordinator with the Stand for Alaska, Vote No on Proposition 1 campaign, and I'm volunteering in gubernatorial elections in Idaho and Alaska."

Dream job: Natural resources attorney and eventually governor of Alaska or U.S. senator. "I want to work to promote an 'all of the above energy' approach, including clean energy, as well as responsible development of natural resources."

Hometown and what you like best about it: Soldotna, Alaska. "I enjoy recreating outside, especially in Alaska, as it is truly one of the last wild and natural places in the world."

Do you plan to vote this November? "I will be away at school during the Alaska primary election in August and general election in November, so I will vote early or absentee."

Sylandi Brown

Middle Georgia EMC in Vienna

Education: Junior at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia. Major in speech communication.

Summer plans: Through a program sponsored by a college ministry group, Brown is a missionary in Hawaii—on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.

Dream job: "I would love to work as a broadcaster for 'CBS This Morning.' I have always thought that it would be such a unique opportunity to report international news stories. My dream job would also be to serve as a motivational speaker."

Hometown and what you like best about it: Hawkinsville, Georgia. "I love how supportive my hometown community has been for my entire life."

Do you plan to vote this November? "I am registered to vote, and I definitely plan to vote in November. Your voice matters."

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