Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative recently held its annual Washington, D. C. Youth Tour Contest at the Honeyville Community Center in Wewahitchka.
Each year, the Cooperative sponsors the contest for high school juniors whose parents or guardians are members of Gulf Coast Electric. Contestants are interviewed by a panel of three judges from the electric cooperative industry, and two winners are chosen to travel on an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D. C. in June, where they join other eleventh-grade students from all over the United States to tour our nation’s capital.
Local civic organizations and high schools play an important role in the contest, as they nominate the students who vie for the trip.
This year’s contestants were: Justin Barrier, representing the Overstreet Volunteer Fire Department; Larson Bozeman, representing Wewahitchka Search and Rescue; Kenny Bradley, representing Port St. Joe High School; Briana Demunck, representing the Stone Mill Creek Volunteer Fire Department; Colby Gay, representing the White City Volunteer Fire Department; George Glass, representing the Scotts Ferry Volunteer Fire Department; Faith Owens, representing the Wewahitchka Ambulance Service; Ashelyn Paul, representing the Wewahitchka Woman’s Club; Trey Trzaska, representing Mosley High School; McKenna Waters, representing Wewahitchka High School; Jessie West, representing the Kinard Volunteer Fire Department; and Cheslee Williamson, representing the Wetappo Creek Volunteer Fire Department.
This year’s winners are West and Water. The alternate is Bradley.
In addition to the Washington, D. C. trip, Gulf Coast Electric takes all of the students nominated to compete in the contest on a two-day trip to Tallahassee. There they tour various sites in Tallahassee with other eleventh-grade participants representing electric cooperatives across the state. While in Tallahassee, the students visited the Challenger Learning Center, where they observed an electromagnetic demonstration and watched an IMAX 3D movie. They also participated in a mock Supreme Court hearing and a mock session in the House Chambers. The students also enjoyed dining at various restaurants and a visit to Fun Station.
Also traveling to Tallahassee with GCEC’s Youth Tour group were Breanna Clemmons and Brett Satterfield, both juniors at Wewahitchka High School. Breanna and Brett are grandchildren of GCEC board members/employees and are therefore ineligible to compete in the local contest. Instead, they submitted essays in a statewide contest for children and grandchildren of cooperative employees and board members. In Tallahassee, it was announced that Breanna Clemmons was the winner of the contest, and she will also be traveling to Washington, D. C. this summer.
“The Youth Tour Contest is a great opportunity for us to reward local students for being outstanding leaders in their communities,” GCEC CEO/General Manager Michael White said.
The Washington, D. C. Youth Tour Program has been in existence since 1957 when co-ops sent students to Washington, D. C. to work during the summer. By 1964, the program was catching on, and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association began to coordinate the efforts of the co-ops. Since then, thousands of young people have experienced this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit our nation’s capital and learn about our government.