Tipton, Mo. (Nov. 7. 2014) — For the first time since the mid-1970s, more than three spots will be available from Co-Mo Electric Cooperative for the annual Youth Tour trip to Washington, D.C.
From 1973 until this year, Co-Mo limited its sponsorship of local kids on the trip to one winner from each of its three service districts. But this year Co-Mo is adding a fourth spot.
“The reason is simple,” said Ken Johnson, the cooperative’s CEO and General Manager. “Year after year, we hear from previous winners, some as recently as a year ago and some who went on the trip all the way back in the 1960s, and they talk about how much of a difference Youth Tour meant and means in their lives, how much the trip changed their lives. Co-Mo wanted to expand how many kids each year it is able to give those experiences.”
So at the finals event on Nov. 20 held in Tipton, nine finalists will be competing for four spots, not three, on the whirlwind adventure of Washington, D.C., to be held in June. The finalists are:
- · Jensen Bauer, Stover High School
- · Kira Ritchie, Stover High School
- · Claudia Schmitz, Warsaw High School
- · Taylor Ellebracht, Boonville High School
- · Haylee Thomas, Boonville High School
- · John Wolf, Tipton High School
- · Sophie Brant, California High School
- · Ashtyn Goans, California High School
- · Lindsey Morris, California High School
The finals include a written test, a presentation of the finalists’ projects and a game show. The top point earner in each of three districts will win a trip to Washington. The next highest point earner, regardless of district, will also be a Youth Tour winner.
Runners-up don’t go away empty handed. Each of the five runners-up receives a $250 college scholarship.
More than 100 students entered this year’s contest from schools all across Co-Mo service territory. They were tasked with answering the question: “Besides providing electricity, talk about one thing Co-Mo does to improve the lives of people in its service territory.” Projects included essays, videos, sculptures, poster boards and more. Each was judged on things such as creativity, accuracy and technical soundness.
Topics students touched on included Co-Mo Connect, Operation Round Up, and Co-Mo’s safety programs in schools.
Youth Tour began in 1957after then-Sen. Lyndon Johnson spoke to a gathering of electric cooperative leaders and challenged them to send young people to Washington, D.C., so they could see what the flag stands for. Missouri joined the growing Youth Tour in1964, with Co-Mo sending 11 delegates as part of the inaugural class. The 2014 Youth Tour trip sent more than 90 students from Missouri to join up with more than 1,500 from across the country for a whirlwind weeklong tour of the nation’s capital.
“The Youth Tour program is one of the most important things we do as an electric cooperative,” Johnson said. “It provides an in-person learning experience about this country and its history that the delegates might otherwise never get. It’s something totally different than you can learn in a textbook or a classroom.”
Delegates on the trip visit the major monuments and museums, including the Smithsonian complex. They also visit in small groups with their elected leaders from the House of Representatives to talk with them about their concerns and issues.
“Having that time in such a small group with someone who is in such an important position in our country, right there in the Capitol, is an invaluable experience that really sticks with the kids,” said John Agliata, the cooperative’s Youth Tour Coordinator and a chaperone on the 2010 trip.
Co-Mo’s Youth Tour contest begins each August and is focused on high school juniors. For more information, visit Co-Mo’s website at co-mo.coop/youthtour.aspx or call Agliata at (800) 781-0157.