Jackson Goins of Altha and Karleigh Walters of Chipley were among 1,600 high school students from 46 states that visited Washington, D.C June 15-20. They represented WFEC on the National Rural Electric Cooperative Youth Tour. 20647004
While in Washington, the students learned first-hand what it is like to be involved in politics, how our government operates and about how and why electric co-ops were formed. The students also visited many monuments and memorials including the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Washington Memorial, World War II Memorial, Viet Nam Memorial, the Iwo Jima Monument and more. The group also visited many of D.C.’s famous museums and Arlington National Cemetery.
“What I enjoyed most while in D.C. was getting to explore famous monuments and memorials with a ton of other people my age. Not only was I able to see these famous structures, I was able to experience it all with 32 newly made friends,” said Walters.
One of the highlights of the trip included meeting elected representatives. “My favorite experience on the trip was meeting Congressman Neal Dunn because he gave me insight on what is going on in the government,” said Goins. “This trip has made me consider a career in politics,” he continued.
The Youth Tour representatives also had the chance to participate in Youth Day, where they heard motivational speaker, Paralympic gold medalist and author, Mike Schlappi speak. He shares with our future leaders how he overcame challenges from an accident that left him paralyzed and in deep despair to become a successful athlete, author and speaker. He is the founder and director of the Wheelchair Sports Foundation, providing sports and recreational opportunities for disabled athletes.
“My favorite experience on Youth Tour would be the motivational speaker. To hear such positivity come out of the mouth of someone that had been through something so horrific was so moving and it was something I will never forget,” said Walters.
Both WFEC Youth Tour representatives agree that they discovered new things about themselves through their participation in the trip.
Walters and Goins both say they discovered how capable they are of building relationships with others quickly.
“I enjoyed the people in my group because of all of the different personalities and the fun we had,” said Goins. 34788002
“The people in my group during Youth Tour are what truly impacted me,” said Walters. “I was given the opportunity to spend five days with the kindest group of people I have ever met. Every single one of the other kids taught me something and I will forever remember each and every one of them,” she continued.
The Youth Tour program is open to all high school juniors whose parents or guardians are members of West Florida Electric Cooperative. Each high school within WFEC’s service area selects a representative for the State Youth Tour during the fall semester each year. The selected representatives then go on to compete for the two slots available for the National Youth Tour trip to Washington, D.C. The Youth Tour program is also a scholarship opportunity for area students. Four $4,000 scholarships to Chipola College are awarded to participants from each county served by WFEC.
“This trip influenced my future because it motivated me to believe that I can do absolutely anything in this world that I want to do. There’s really nothing that can stop someone as long as they work hard,” said Walters. 23441001
If you will be a junior during the 2019-2020 school year, see your school’s guidance counselor for more information about the Youth Tour program or contact Candace Croft, Communications & Public Relations Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Karleigh Walters (left), Congressman Neal Dunn (center) & Jackson Goins (right).