Anna Alday of Altha and Bailey Rich of Bonifay were among a record-breaking 1,800 high school students from 46 states across the country that visited Washington, D.C. June 9-15. They represented WFEC on the National Rural Electric Cooperative Youth Tour.
Alday, a student at Altha School, said being chosen to represent WFEC through the Youth Tour program has truly been the opportunity of a lifetime. 76953001
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. One of the highlights of the trip included meeting their elected representatives in the U.S. House and Senate.
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. The youth tour students also participated in a special tour of the Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management facility, courtesy of Alex Amparo, a former Florida Youth Tour student, who is the acting director of external affairs.
“I gained a new respect for military and government after visiting the monuments and Arlington Cemetery. My visit to the cemetery moved me the most because I saw with my own eyes just a fraction of the fallen soldiers who died to protect my freedom,” said Bailey Rich, a Holmes County High School student.
“I decided to participate in the Youth Tour because it seemed like it would be a chance to meet new people, visit new places and learn more about the people who help our nation function. The whole trip was incredible, but my favorite part was watching the United States Marine Corps Sunset Parade at the Lincoln Memorial. There, we were able to meet some of the men and women who defend and honor our country,” said Alday. 93491001
Rich said he decided to participate in Youth Tour because of the opportunity to win a $4,000 scholarship to Chipola College. He went on to say, “The most enjoyable part of the Youth Tour experience was making so many new friends.”
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, as mentioned above. One $4,000 scholarship to Chipola College is awarded to a participant from each county served by WFEC.
“The Youth Tour experience was very positive from the interview process, to the banquet, to the DC trip. This program is very well organized and communicated every detail effectively and efficiently. I felt like West Florida Electric employees went above and beyond to make this trip a very memorable one. The program allows young leaders to leave their comfort zones and learn about new things. The Youth Tour was an amazing experience that showed me different types of people in Florida along with the diversity that there is in a larger city. It was a once in a lifetime experience that I will remember forever,”said Rich.
Both students also said they gained valuable knowledge about WFEC during the Youth Tour program including that the cooperative strives to provide reliable electricity to rural areas at affordable rates and that it is owned by its members, serving a geographical area much bigger than they expected.
“From this trip, I specifically learned to take chances even when you may feel unsure about them, because they will always be rewarding,” said Alday.
If you will be a junior during the 2018-2019 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.