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DREMC sponsors annual DC youth trip

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Participants in a trip to Washington, D.C., sponsored by Duck River Electric Membership Corp. included, front row, from left: Connie Potts, DREMC chaperone; Rachael Wolters, Maury County; Katylnn Maddox, Moore County; Kelsey Hunter, Marshall County; Bailey Little, Franklin County, Brittany Hill, Franklin County; Holly Crowder, Bedford County and Mayleen Mincher, Coffee County. Back row, Caleb Allen, Giles County; Zeke Grissom, Bedford County; Matthew Prufert, Coffee County; Zack Horvath, Marshall County, Brad Gibson, DREMC chaperone and Robert Phillips, Giles County chaperone.
(Submitted photo)
More than 140 high school juniors from across Tennessee experienced an in-depth look at our nation's capital during the electric cooperative's 2012 Washington Youth Tour.

Eleven students representing Duck River Electric Membership Corporation participated in the week-long tour of Washington, D.C., for writing winning short stories titled "Electric Cooperatives: iPower the Future," describing how locally owned, member-controlled electric cooperatives provide valuable community-building support in addition to reliable and affordable electric service. Robert Phillips, english teacher from Richland High School, was also awarded a spot on the trip to recognize his invaluable support of the co-op's youth programs.

The Electric Cooperative Youth Tour is a joint effort of Duck River Electric Membership Corporation, the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Each school year, DREMC sponsors a short story contest for high school juniors. Winners are awarded an expense-paid trip to our nation's capital the following June as part of the Washington Youth Tour. This year's trip ran June 15-21 and included meeting with elected officials, visits to Washington's popular tourist stops and time to meet winners representing other co-ops across the state.

"Youth Tour is one of the most rewarding things that I do all year," said Connie Potts, DREMC Consumer Information Specialist, who served as a chaperone. "These students not only learn about our nation and their electric cooperative, but they also learn leadership skills that will benefit them in college and beyond."

Students on the tour visited 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 conflicts. Strolls through the varied museums of the Smithsonian Institution afforded the students opportunities to learn more about science, history and art. Other fun stops included homes of former presidents -- George Washington's Mount Vernon and Jefferson's Monticello -- a performance of "Memphis!" at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and tours of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and National Museum of Crime and Punishment and the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

The Youth Tour also included a solemn and sobering visit to Arlington National Cemetery, where the group laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. The Tennessee group marveled at the precision and skill of the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps and Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon at the Sunset Parade, performed in front of the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial's iconic statue re-creating the flag-raising over Iwo Jima.

No trip to Washington, D.C., would be complete without a lesson or two in government and civics. The group was welcomed to the U.S. Capitol by Reps. Diane Black and Stephen Fincher, and their staff members treated students to a special after-hours, VIP tour of the U.S. Capitol. Students also met Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker as well as Reps. Marsha Blackburn, Scott DesJarlais, John Duncan, Chuck Fleischmann, and Phil Roe. Black also spent some time with her constituents outside the Capital and posed for photos.

Tennessee's Youth Tour delegation joined other trip winners from across the country for Youth Day on Monday, June 18. More than 1,500 students came together to swap stories of their Washington experiences. They listened to presentations by former Nebraska State Sen. David Landis, who told, in character, the story of the late U.S. Sen. George W. Norris of Nebraska, explaining the formation of and the politics surrounding the creation of electric cooperatives and the Rural Electrification Act, and Mike Schlappi, a four-time Paralympic medalist and two-time wheelchair basketball champion, who urged the young attendees, "Just because you can't stand up doesn't mean you can't stand out."

"We are owned by our members, and it is so important that our members understand how that makes us different. Our communities and our co-ops need strong leadership, and youth tour is one way we can help prepare students for the roles they may one day fill," said Jim Allison, DREMC President and CEO. "Youth tour and similar educational opportunities made possible by DREMC are designed to help students understand what it takes to be a leader in their communities and why leadership is so important."

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