Seth Goodwin and Chandler Vines recently traveled to Washington, D. C. as Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative’s representatives at the Rural Electric Youth Tour that electric cooperatives across the nation participate in.
Each year, the Cooperative sponsors the Youth Tour contest for eleventh-graders whose parents are members of GCEC. Contestants are interviewed by a panel of three judges from the electric cooperative industry, and two students are selected to travel on an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D. C. in June.
While in Washington, the students toured the numerous museums; Arlington National Cemetery; the Iwo Jima Monument; the U. S. Capitol area; the Korean, Lincoln, Vietnam, FDR, Jefferson and World War II Memorials; Mt. Vernon; and the National Cathedral. They also enjoyed the U. S. Marine Corps Sunset Parade; a boat cruise and dance on the Potomac River; and ended their trip by seeing a show at the Kennedy Center.
A highlight of the trip was the National Youth Day rally, where they joined other eleventh graders from across the nation. It was on this day that the Florida delegation honored the late Ryan Flowers. Flowers was to attend the Youth Tour as a representative for Gulf Coast Electric, but died tragically in an automobile accident less than six weeks before the trip. The Flowers family established a scholarship fund in his memory and sold T-Shirts as a fundraiser. On June 17, the 32 students and nine chaperones from Florida wore the T-Shirts and shared Ryan’s story.
The Washington, D. C. Youth Tour Program has been in existence since 1958 when 34 students from Iowa and a handful of chaperones visited Washington for a weeklong study tour. 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 capitol and learn about our government.
Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative is part of the Touchstone Energy® national alliance of local, consumer-owned electric cooperatives providing high standards of service to customers large and small. More than 70 employees serve more than 20,000 meters and 2,500 miles of line in Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Jackson, Walton and Washington counties and in the municipalities of Wewahitchka, Ebro, Lynn Haven, White City, Fountain and Southport.