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It's all about YOUth!
Aug 17, 2015

What happens when 1,700 of America's best and brightest students come together for one week in our nation's capital? The trip of a lifetime! In June, electric cooperatives across the U.S. sent groups of high school students to Washington, D.C., for the 2015 Washington Youth Tour. South Carolina sent 65 students, representing 20 electric co-ops. "We had a terrific group of young people on the trip," said Van O'Cain, director of the South Carolina Youth Tour. "And for many of them, this was their first opportunity to visit Washington. It always makes you feel good when you see how appreciative they are to be on the trip."

For Blue Ridge Co-op Youth Tour representative Anna White, this was the trip of a lifetime. "Visiting our nation's capital is one of the most awe-inspiring things I have ever been blessed to do. It was such an honor to be allowed to stand in rooms such as the Old Senate Chamber and the Old Supreme Court, where monumental decisions in history were made." Anna is applying for the Robert D. Bennett Community Service scholarship and for her project has formed a running club through Miracle Hill Children's Home. Working with girls ages 12–17, she is using the club to help the girls gain self-confidence and let them know someone cares. Part of her project has included getting sponsorships to buy new athletic shoes and running apparel for the girls.

Delegate Aimee Rodriguez particularly enjoyed getting to meet other youth from all over the United States. "I really enjoyed the trip, especially the openness of the youth attendees. My favorite thing about the trip was getting to meet other youth from all over the United States. Everyone was so excited to be there, and that made it even more fun to interact with and meet new people."

A highlight for the third Blue Ridge delegate, Meg Leatherwood, was getting to meet with U.S. Sens. Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham, and another special individual. Meg writes, "When I visited the National Museum of the Marine Corps, I was given the chance to meet a member of the greatest generation. Frank Matthews was raised in Newberry, S.C., during the Depression. He was my age (17) when he enlisted in the Marine Corps, and one year later he fought at Iwo Jima. There were 36 men in his platoon on the first day of the battle. He was the only one to leave the island alive from his platoon after fighting for 28 days and being wounded three times. It was a great honor to meet this American hero and hear him tell his story at the age of 90. It reminded me that it's the land of the free because of the brave."

As you can see, each of these three girls will forever be influenced by the friends they made and the experiences they had in Washington. Youth Tour is just one of the ways we're investing in our future leaders. South Carolina's electric co-ops do so much more than provide safe, reliable and affordable power—we are dedicated to improving the futures of students in our community, because we know they are next in line to lead the way.

Blue Ridge Youth Tour Delegates, Aimee Rodriguez, Anna White and Meg Leatherwood are pictured on the steps of the United States Capitol Building. This was one stop on the week-long trip that included visits to many national monuments and countless opportunities to learn more about cooperatives. Photo: James Moye, Black River Electric Cooperative


One of the highlights for Meg Leatherwood was talking with Frank Matthews at the National Museum of the Marine Corps. Photo: Meg Leatherwood


To learn more about the Washington Youth Tour, visit YouthTour.coop.



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