HARTFORD — Ten local high school juniors spent Monday learning key lessons about America’s history and government during Wiregrass Electric Cooperative’s (WEC) Youth Tour event.
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association initiated the Youth Tour program in the late 1950s, offering chances for the nation’s youth to learn about the governmental process and U.S. history through trips to Washington, D.C. State cooperative associations like the Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives followed suit and created localized versions that increased the value of the program.
WEC has annually sponsored students for the Montgomery and Washington, D.C., tours.
“The Youth Tour program is a tremendous experience for the 10 students we annually send to Montgomery and those selected to go to Washington, D.C.,” says Brad Kimbro, WEC chief operating officer. “It is vital for our nation’s health that the next generation understands our historical foundations and how our governmental processes work. This information will make them more effective leaders.”
Just like on previous Youth Tours, legislators discussed governmental processes and today’s issues. Students learned about Alabama government from local legislators Sen. Donnie Chesteen and Reps. Paul Lee and Jeff Sorrells and gained insight about the federal government from U.S. Rep. Barry Moore. The legislators also offered advice on leadership and life.
Several presenters focused on the roles electric cooperatives play in rural communities today and their importance to the fabric of our nation’s history, while Melanie Hill, Southeast AlabamaWorks! program manager, discussed leadership development tactics.
Each delegate also received a $1,500 scholarship to help with future educational expenses and had the chance to network with students from other schools.
“The Youth Tour is always a fun event for area juniors, and we are proud that our board of trustees voted to supplement the valuable lessons and friendships formed here with the scholarships,” says Jennifer Ward, WEC manager of communications and public relations.
Delegates this year were Collier Bradshaw and Alex Hall of Geneva County High School; Ragan Jimmerson of Northside Methodist Academy; Emily Pologruto of Providence Christian School; Reid Holland, Lottie Lewis, Laura Kate Meadows and Ashley Morsey of Rehobeth High School; Braxton Brooks of Samson High School; and Clay Smith of Slocomb High School. All delegates are dependents of WEC members.
Sydney McDonald is a Dothan Eagle staff writer and can be reached at email@example.com or 334.712.7906. Support her work and that of other Eagle journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today at dothaneagle.com.