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Local students gain lessons in leadership, civic responsibility
Local students gain lessons in leadership, civic responsibility
Local students Michael Jones, Emily Rowe, Alli Piatt, Bianca Duncan, Addison Brooks and Autumn McLean stop for a photo in front of the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., during their recent tour. Photo provided

Six local students recently returned from the Washington Youth Tour, a weeklong leadership experience for teens sponsored by Georgia’s electric cooperatives, including Coastal Electric Cooperative. 

June 14-21, Emily Rowe of Townsend, Michael Jones and Autumn McLean of Hinesville, Alli Piatt and Addison Brooks of Richmond Hill, and Bianca Duncan of Midway joined 1,800 of their talented and ambitious peers in Washington, D.C., to build leadership skills, understand the importance of civic involvement and community service, tour the nation’s historic sites and learn about the country’s rich and storied heritage.

“The purpose of the Youth Tour is to help promote stronger communities and a stronger nation by inspiring young people to make meaningful, lifelong contributions,” said Bethany Akridge, Washington Youth Tour Coordinator for Coastal Electric Cooperative – herself a former Washington Youth Tour delegate. “These students see history come to life as they learn of the people and places that helped shape our country. They meet other delegates from across the country from different walks of life, backgrounds and experiences to give them a broader perspective and deeper appreciation of the world at large.” This year’s contingent from Georgia included 112 student delegates, 13 chaperones and three tour directors who attended a kickoff banquet in Atlanta for the student delegates and their families before departing the next morning for D.C.

While in D.C., students visited Mount Vernon, Arlington Cemetery, the U.S. Capitol, the National Archives, Supreme Court, Library of Congress, Smithsonian Museums and Kennedy Center. They also toured the Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR, MLK, WWII, Vietnam and Korean War memorials. The group had dinner aboard the Cherry Blossom Riverboat, which featured views of historic D.C. and ended with a dance.

In addition, students gained perspective on some of today’s important issues and their roles as involved citizens. They attended a congressional town hall meeting and visited with Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.

Finally, all state groups convened for National Youth Day, sponsored by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, to learn from public figures and other inspirational speakers, including Olympic gold medalist and author Mike Schlappi.

To date, nearly 50,000 students across America have participated in the Washington Youth Tour. Alumni have gone on to design airplanes, lead companies and serve in the highest ranks of government. Many more regularly serve their local communities.

Youth leadership programs like the Washington Youth Tour are possible thanks to the generosity of Coastal Electric Cooperative members who allow their electric bills to be rounded up to the next whole dollar through Operation Round Up. Those nickels and dimes are pooled together and invested back into the community through the Coastal Electric Cooperative Foundation.

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