La Plata Electric Youth Tour delegates visit U.S. Capitol
High school juniors Gallegos, Happ, Salinas, Sentner and Zacamolpa sponsored by LPEA
Washington, D.C. – Forty high school students from Colorado participated in the 54th anniversary of National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s (NRECA) Youth Tour in Washington, D.C. June 12-20. Local delegates were Heleny Zacamolpa, Animas HS; Diego Salinas, Bayfield HS; Irie Sentner, Durango HS; Larissa Gallegos, Ignacio HS; and Emma Happ, Pagosa Springs HS. They were sponsored by La Plata Electric Association, Inc. (LPEA), Durango.
La Plata Electric Association Youth Tour delegates (L-R): Larissa Gallegos, Ignacio HS; Irie Sentner, Durango HS; Emma Happ, Pagosa Springs HS; Diego Salinas, Bayfield HS; and Heleny Zacamolpa, Animas HS at the U.S. Capitol Building. The delegates traveled to Washington, D.C. June 12-20 to attend the NRECA Youth Tour Conference.
The nine-day tour provided an action-filled trip for high school students, offering them opportunities to learn first-hand what it’s like to be involved in politics, community service and today’s pressing issues. Highlights included special sessions with U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Cory Gardner (R-CO), and U.S. Congressmen Scott Tipton (R-3rd District), Jason Crow (D-6th District) and Ed Perlmutter (D-7th District) on June 19th in the U.S. Capitol Building.
“The Youth Tour students from Colorado demonstrated a true passion for learning about democracy and government. They asked some tough questions on everything from education-related bills, health care to climate change legislation. It’s great to see high school students eager to learn and gain leadership skills. Building strong leaders out of today’s young people is essential to our nation’s future,” said U.S. Senator Bennet.
Youth Tour delegates also visited with NRECA CEO Jim Matheson in Arlington, Va. Matheson, a former seven-term Utah congressman, encouraged the delegates to take advantage of this exclusive learning opportunity, communicate with their elected officials, make new friends and have fun while visiting Washington D.C.
“Each one of you can make a difference in the political process,” said Matheson. “The way that you talk about the issues will impress your leaders in Congress. It will give them hope that your generation understands how to lead, and you are committed to doing so.”
Colorado’s Youth Tour delegates toured famous monuments, the Smithsonian Institution’s museums, George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, Gettysburg National Military Park and Arlington National Cemetery. The group also attended the U.S. Marine Corps Sunset Parade one evening with delegates from other states.
Other events of the week included participation in the NRECA Youth Day program, during which a special program coordinated by NRECA brought together more than 1,900 Youth Tour delegates from across the United States. Some of the nation’s best and brightest high school students enjoyed speeches by government leaders and motivational speakers, such as Mike Schlappi, an inspiring four-time Paralympic medalist and two-time world wheelchair basketball champion.
Since 1964, LPEA has sponsored Youth Tour delegates for visits to their U.S. congressional delegations, energy and grassroots government education sessions, and sightseeing in Washington, D.C. More than 55,000 high school juniors and seniors sponsored by the nation’s electric cooperatives have participated in the Youth Tour since the educational leadership program began. Previous Youth Tour participants have become University Presidents, CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies, and Members of Congress.
LPEA, a Touchstone Energy Cooperative established in 1939, provides to its more than 33,000 members, with in excess of 42,000 meters, safe, reliable electricity at the lowest reasonable cost, while being environmentally responsible. For additional information, visit www.lpea.coop.