Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

Kentucky Electric Cooperatives Sponsors High School Students on Washington Youth Tour

By meerna Jul11,2024
Kentucky Electric Cooperatives Sponsors High School Students on Washington Youth Tour

As the new school year begins next month, dozens of Kentucky high school seniors will be able to better understand the U.S. government, the country’s history and each other after participating in the Kentucky Electric Cooperatives Washington Youth Tour 2024 this summer.

Sponsored by local electric cooperatives, the youth delegation, consisting of 56 students from across Kentucky, joined about 1,800 other students in Washington, D.C., in June, representing electric cooperatives across the country.

“During the trip, I was able to connect with other students from all over Kentucky in counties I had never heard of before and build lifelong friendships,” said McKenzie Cunningham, a Lewis County High School graduate and Fleming-Mason Energy participant. “The experience inspired me to be an active and informed citizen, and I am grateful for the opportunity.”

“I feel more connected to the history of our country and its place in the world,” said Quentin Ellis, a senior at Randall K. Cooper High School, which is sponsored by Owen County Electric. “It’s important that these trips and opportunities exist, if only to help future generations better understand the world.”

Kentucky’s Youth Leadership Council Delegate Mason Lovell names U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) the first honorary delegate for the Washington Youth Tour. (Photo: Tim Webb, KY Electric Cooperatives)

At the U.S. Capitol, students learned more about the legislative process and asked questions of key staff members of Kentucky’s congressional delegation.

“When you stand there, you feel a surge of emotion,” recalls Anna Sumrall, a senior at Elizabethtown High School, who is the patron of Nolin RECC. “A part of you feels small standing in these amazing buildings. But more than that, I felt empowered. This is where it all happens. As a student with a deep interest in civics and government, there’s no experience like what I had in D.C. No lecture or documentary compares to hearing our leaders talk about their work—and waiting for the day when you’ll be in their shoes.”

On the steps of the U.S. Senate, students named Senator Mitch McConnell the first honorary delegate of the Kentucky Youth Tour, recognizing his decades of service and support for electric cooperatives. Mason Lovell, a delegate from Kentucky’s Youth Leadership Council, presented the senator with the Kentucky Youth Tour pin.

“Despite being one of the busiest U.S. senators and a party leader for so long, you’ve always made time to talk to our group here on the Kentucky delegation from the Washington Youth Tour,” said Lovell, a senior at McCallie School sponsored by Pennyrile Electric. “That means a lot to us. You’ve also been an advocate for rural electric cooperatives, which impacts lives like mine. We really want to thank you.”

“Actually, I should be thanking you,” McConnell replied. “It’s a great group that I enjoy visiting in Washington every year.”

The delegation visited national memorials, museums and historic sites, including Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Arlington National Cemetery, where students laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

“Most of the students on the trip, myself included, had never been to Washington, D.C.,” said Luke Humphries, a student at University Heights Academy sponsored by Pennyrile Electric. “It was amazing to be able to experience all of our history and culture with other Kentucky students. A particularly special moment was when our group went to the 9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon; I could feel the respect and reverence for the victims throughout the Kentucky group. It was a powerful moment and one I will definitely never forget.”

Kentucky Electric Cooperatives has hosted the trip since 1972, providing high school seniors with a unique opportunity to see our government in action.

“By exploring our nation’s capital first-hand, students not only gain historical insights but also a sense of their own potential to lead and innovate in the world around them,” said Mallory Wafzig, partnerships manager and youth tour director.

“Every moment was not just about sightseeing, but also about building lasting friendships and connections with like-minded people from all walks of life,” said Natalie Sandlin of Jackson County High School, sponsored by Jackson Energy. “This trip not only broadened my perspective, but also gave me a sense of responsibility to make a positive contribution to my community and beyond.”

“This trip was truly an experience of a lifetime,” added Abby Riley, a senior at Daviess County High School, sponsored by Kenergy. “Seeing all the monuments, landmarks and our nation’s capital in person was absolutely amazing. And our group fit together like a puzzle, and everyone was a friend.”

Kentucky Electric Cooperatives

By meerna

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