Trenton, Tenn.–Gibson Electric Membership Corporation recently rewarded six local students with a trip to Washington, D.C. on the 2019 Rural Electric Youth Tour. Obion County High School’s Kaylee Cook, Hickman County High School’s Gracie Lusk, Crockett County High School’s Karli Henson, Lake County High School’s Tanner Snyder, South Fulton High School’s Brandon Hutchison and South Gibson County High School’s Alix Kirkendol, along with 135 other students from across Tennessee, participated in the weeklong trip that began on Friday, June 8.
The annual event, sponsored by Gibson EMC and the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, provides young leaders with an opportunity to explore the nation’s capital, learn about government and cooperatives and develop their leadership skills. Students were selected for the trip by writing short stories titled “Electric Cooperatives – Going Beyond the Wires” that explain how co-ops provide communities with much more than electric power.
“The Youth Tour is an incredible opportunity for these students to experience history up-close and personal,” says Gibson EMC Key Accounts Representative and trip chaperone Cynthia McClure. “Delegates experience a whirlwind of a week, visiting museums, monuments and other landmarks.”
“We take great pride in recognizing the best and brightest from across the state,” said Todd Blocker, vice president of member relations for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association and tour director. “By recognizing their accomplishments through programs like the Washington Youth Tour, we show these leaders of tomorrow that their hometown electric co-op is more than a utility provider; these students are active members of their community and fully invested in its prosperity.”
While in Washington, D.C., Tennessee’s Youth Tour delegates saw the White House and memorials to past presidents Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt as well as monuments honoring the sacrifices of veterans of World War II and the Vietnam and Korean Wars. During visits to the museums of the Smithsonian Institution, the touring students saw and experienced natural, historical and artistic treasures. Other fun stops included historic homes of former presidents — George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Jefferson’s Monticello — as well as Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and a boat cruise down the Potomac River. Among other Youth Tour highlights was a solemn and sobering visit to Arlington National Cemetery where Tanner Snyder was one of four students to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
The group was welcomed to the U.S. Capitol by Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker and members of the Tennessee congressional delegation who posed for photos and answered questions.
“Electric co-ops genuinely care about the prosperity of the communities we serve,” Gibson EMC and Gibson Connect President and CEO Dan Rodamaker said. “The Washington Youth Tour is a small but important way for us to show these exceptional students that rural Tennessee matters. We want them to be passionate about their communities and prepared to lead when those opportunities come along.”
President Lyndon Johnson inspired the Washington Youth Tour in 1957 when he encouraged electric cooperatives to send youngsters to the nation’s capital. In the years since, more than 6,000 young Tennesseans have been delegates on the Washington Youth Tour.
Photo: Gibson EMC Key Accounts Representative Cynthia McClure, Gracie Lusk, Brandon Hutchison, Karli Henson, Kaylee Cook, Tanner Snyder, Alix Kirkendol and South Gibson County High School English Teacher Denice Walton visit the U.S. Capitol while on the Washington Youth Tour sponsored by Gibson EMC.