Local youth participate in Electric Cooperative Youth Tour

Each year, East Mississippi Electric Power Association and other cooperatives across Mississippi and the United States, send high school juniors to represent their associations on the Washington, D.C., Youth Tour. This event is hosted nationally by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) and statewide by the Electric Power Associations of Mississippi.

EMEPA sponsored three delegates on the 2015 Youth Tour. Alec Marlow, Zoria Nicholson and Kiera Phillips joined 55 other Mississippi students, and more than 1,700 students from 44 states across the nation to further develop their leadership skills, learn about the nation’s history, the role of government, and inspire youth to become public servants.

Alec will be a senior at Southeast High School and is the son of LeeLee and Steve Marlow of Meridian. Zoria will be a senior at Louisville High School and is the daughter of Toni and Rev. Dennis Jackson of Louisville. Kiera is the daughter of Patrick and Deffany Phillips of Noxapater and will be a senior at Noxapater High School.

During the week of June 13-19, these students enjoyed an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. For seven days, the students visited all of the major monuments and memorials including the Jefferson, FDR, Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Air Force, World War II, Korean War and the Vietnam Veterans Memorials.

“I feel as if I met my lifelong friends on this trip,” said Alec. “Treat everyday of Youth Tour like its your last.”

Many of the students that traveled to Washington, D.C., for Youth Tour had never experienced traveling on an airplane. The experience was life-changing for many and gave them a first-hand look at their government in action.

The students spent a day on Capitol Hill, and thanks to the generosity of Congressman Gregg Harper, they were given a private tour of the United States Capitol building, where he invited them onto the U.S. House floor and allowed them the privilege to view the Washington Mall from the Speaker’s Balcony. After the tour, students visited with Senator Wicker in the Russell Building rotunda.

One of the highlights of Youth Tour was the popular Marine Corps Sunset Parade at the Iwo Jima Memorial. Since 1956, this event has honored men and women in uniform. The Marine Drum and Bugle Corps commences the occasion with popular music, which leads into the Silent Drill Platoon. In the spirit of honoring our nation’s military, the students visited Arlington National Cemetery where they witnessed the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The students joined other states for several activities throughout the week, including a boat cruise on the Potomac River and a dinner and dance with all 44 of the participating states. They also participated in national Youth Day where they were able to hear inspirational speeches and interact with students from across the United States in a high-energy atmosphere.

“To say I made friends would be an understatement, it is more like I made a family here at Youth Tour,” said Zoria.

Alec, Zoria and Kiera also toured Mount Vernon, the home of our nation’s first president George Washington and went to Ford’s Theater where the infamous assassination of President Lincoln occurred. They visited the White House Visitor’s Center where they were able to learn about the celebrated home and several of the first families who have occupied it over the last few decades.

In addition to witnessing our country’s history firsthand, the students spent a day touring the Smithsonian museums, including the museums of Air and Space, American History, Natural History, American Indian Museum and the National Gallery of Art.

The week ended with a visit to Nationals Park where the students saw the Washington Nationals play the Tampa Bay Rays.

“This was the best trip I have ever taken. I have been deeply inspired and have made lifelong friends,” said Kiera. “Now I stand and believe that unity is the key to success!”

The Youth Tour is part of an extensive Youth Leadership Program supported by EMEPA, and we congratulate these students on their accomplishments.

“We are proud to be able to offer this opportunity to deserving students in our service area,” said Wayne Henson, EMEPA chief executive officer. “It is important for our future leaders, including these three impressive young people, to see how our country has been shaped through history, as well as how hard our current leaders work on behalf of Mississippi.”

East Mississippi Electric Power Association will be considering next year’s Youth Leadership participants later this fall. Be sure to contact your school’s guidance counselor for more information on the 2016 Youth Leadership Program.

For pictures of this year’s Youth Tour, visit the 2015 Youth Leadership Program Facebook page.

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