LAKESIDE – Each year Navopache Electric Cooperative (NEC) offers high school students in their service areas the opportunity to vie for a chance to go on “the trip of a lifetime” to Washington, D.C. On June 13 Hannah Wilkinson, St. Johns High School; Kaleb Capp, Round Valley High School; Landon Blackburn, Mogollon High School, and Payton Richards, Blue Ridge High School met at NEC’s main office to embark on an all-expenses paid week in our nation’s capitol.
NEC sponsors nine students. Five go one year and four the next year. Alchesay, Cibecue, Reserve and Show Low High Schools and Sequoia Village will have their turn again in 2020.
Each year a representative from NEC goes to the school eligible that year and explains the entry process to the students either in an assembly or in a setting arranged by the school counselor. In order to be considered, a student must submit a resume and write an essay on “What is an electric cooperative and what does it mean to me?” Next an interview is conducted at NEC before a panel of judges. After a decision is reached, the lucky students are notified followed by a parent and student orientation where guidelines of the trip are presented.
The students who are selected for the trip are accompanied by chaperones from the various cooperatives around the state. NEC Communications Specialist Jennifer Wade stated in an email that this year there was a total of 56 students from Arizona and nine chaperones on the trip.
On June 14 they flew out of Phoenix to Washington, D.C. On arrival a tour bus became their second home after going to their accommodations in Arlington, Virginia.
Each day the students tour historical sites and museums and are also given the opportunity to converse with their state representatives or senators. Students are able to gain a personal understanding of American history and their role as a citizen. Though they visit sites like the Smithsonian, Mount Vernon, Arlington National Cemetery, the White House and the Capitol Building, they also learn about the role the electric cooperatives play in their rural communities.
A special Youth Day brings all of the students from around the country together to experience leadership training and develop a national peer network for themselves.
The Washington D.C. Youth Tour is coordinated by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) in Arlington, Virginia, and according to their website; 2019 brought 1600 students in for the June 14 – 20 tour.
The funds to make this trip possible come from interest earned on unclaimed memberships, deposits and capital credits.
Information on the 2020 tour can be found at http://www.navopache.org/content/washington-dc-youth-tour.