NEW ORLEANS—Kade McAdams, this year's Youth Leadership Council spokesman and a member of Tri-County Electric Co-op in Azle, Texas, delivered the following remarks on March 3 at NRECA's Annual Meeting:

Good morning. Directors, managers and cooperative employees, I want to extend a big Texas thank-you for inviting my parents and me all the way from Seymour…where you see less.

I would like to begin by giving a shout-out to Beth Knudson, the NRECA youth programs and training manger, and Esther Dominguez, the Texas Electric Cooperative Youth Tour coordinator. You two ladies, and the programs you dedicate so much of your time to, have changed my life for the better, as well as the lives of countless numbers of youth. Thank you.

I owe my sponsoring co-op, Tri-County Electric, a great big thank-you. Everyone at Tri-County has been so supportive of my role and treated me like a king. Daryl Shriver, Gloria Barron and especially Annie McGinnis have mentored me, and I can confidently say that I have learned a lot from them and they have not heard the last of me…I value their input and know I will need their advice in college and in my career one day.

Last but not least, I want to take a quick second to thank my parents. My brother and I won the lottery with these folks. I appreciate you, Mom and Dad.

Now, let's get down to business and tune in to a message that I'm thankful I get to share with you today.

Today's Listeners, Tomorrow's Leaders

Nelson Mandela is credited with saying, "The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow," and my grandmother's response to that quote is, "Gosh darn! That's scary." Babers, that's what we call my grandma, is right, because our world and society continue to change and evolve and become more and more confusing for the youth of today.

The type of people Babers would want me to aspire to be like are not always the ones youth see and hear the most about via television or social media. The true leaders that we need to be seeking are behind the scenes working hard to provide for others, helping those they are surrounded by to rise up, acting with kindness, and most importantly appreciating their blessings. In other words, the leaders that the youth of today need to aspire to be like live by principles.

Principles, defined as morally correct attitudes and behaviors, are very important to the creation of tomorrow's leaders. So many people, especially in today's society, find it difficult to abide by principles and find examples of them. I believe country music is the solution…one can learn a lot of positive principles from listening to the lyrics of good ol' country songs. And to prove it to you I'm going to sing a few tunes and allow you to hear just where today's youth, tomorrow's leaders, can get inspiration to live each day by.

Leaders work hard for what they believe in and usually do so without a thank-you or token of appreciation. The country music group Alabama is one of many music icons that has a great song about working hard each and every day. Their song "Forty Hour Week for a Livin'" has a great message. Now, I'm warning you, someone stole all the money my parents gave me for singing lessons.

"There are people in this country that work hard everyday, not for fame or fortune do they strive, but the fruits of their labor are worth more than their pay…"

This is how people should view their jobs, school work, careers and beliefs. You should love what you do and do what you love. The outcome of your labor and passion will be full of purpose and success.

Leaders make sure those they are surrounded by rise up and don't judge shoes they haven't walked in. Kacey Musgraves' country song "Biscuits" aligns with this principle.

"Hoe your own row, and raise your own babies, smoke your own smoke, and grow your own daisies, mend your own fences, and own your own crazy, mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy."

No one is perfect, and the leaders of tomorrow have to remember that no one has ever gotten tall by making someone else feel small.

Leaders should have a grateful heart and attitude…think about the people you enjoy being around and look up to…they are kind, genuine, and have contagious attitudes that spread through a room. Babers always says, "It's hard to love a biting dog," and that's true if you think about it, no one is going to follow you or believe in you if you resonate negativity. In my opinion, Tim McGraw's song "Humble and Kind" is a great way to nail this principle.

"Go to church cause your mama says to, visit Grandpa every chance that you can, it won't be a waste of time…always stay humble and kind."

Try to live in such a way that if someone spoke badly of you, no one would believe it.

"Hold the door, say please, say thank you, don't steal, don't cheat and don't lie, I know you got mountains to climb, but always stay humble and kind."

And, lastly, count your blessings.

"Don't take for granted the love this life gives you, when you get where you're going don't forget, turn back around help the next one in line, always stay humble and kind."

Principles and country music. There are so many great country songs that if you just tune everything out and listen to the lyrics…they will help you live a life that you will be proud of and one that makes the real leaders of tomorrow. So, the next time you're in your car or truck, walking or running with your phone, or just sitting on your back porch, tune into a country music station and really listen to the words that are being sung. Just like the popular Texas-Country artist Aaron Watson sings in his song "Bluebonnets":

"Long gone like bluebonnets in the spring, we're only here for a little while. It's beautiful and bitter sweet, so make the most of every mile, so pack light and love heavy give it all your heart and soul, so in the end you won't regret one thing, life is like bluebonnets in the spring."

Make your time and principles on Earth count…be a leader.

I urge the youth of today to find a set of principles to live by and follow, because we are today's listeners, tomorrow's leaders.

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