(July 5, 2022 ) — Four students representing Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative spent a week in the nation’s capital last week as delegates of the 2022 Washington Youth Tour. Mercie Ashmore from Lewis County, Knox Einerson from Humphreys County, Aiydan Parchman of Houston County, and Dylan Wolk of Hickman County joined other Tennessee students on the weeklong trip that began on Friday, June 17. Dawn Orton, MLEC member relations coordinator, served as a chaperone with other Tennessee cooperative representatives.
The annual event, sponsored by MLEC and the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, provides young leaders with an opportunity to explore the nation’s capital, learn about government and cooperatives and develop their leadership skills. Students were selected for the trip by writing short stories titled “Electric Cooperatives – Building a Brighter Tennessee” that explain how co-ops like MLEC are investing in the future of the communities they serve.
“These young people are the future leaders of our region,” says MLEC President and CEO Keith Carnahan. “The Youth Tour is a unique opportunity for them to experience history and public policy up-close and personal, and to develop leadership skills and knowledge that will serve our communities for years to come.”
“The Youth Tour recognizes the best and brightest from across Tennessee,” said Todd Blocker, vice president of member relations for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association and tour director. “By honoring their accomplishments through programs like the Washington Youth Tour, we show these young people that they have an important role in the future of Tennessee. They come home with a better understanding of history, stronger leadership skills and a passion to serve their community.”
While in Washington, D.C., Tennessee’s Youth Tour delegates saw the White House and memorials to past presidents Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt as well as monuments honoring the sacrifices of veterans of World War II and the Vietnam and Korean Wars. During visits to the museums of the Smithsonian Institution, the touring Tennesseans saw and experienced natural, historical and artistic treasures. Other fun stops included historic homes of former presidents — George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Jefferson’s Monticello — as well as the National Museum of the Marine Corps, the National Cathedral and a boat cruise down the Potomac River. The group also paid a solemn and sobering visit to Arlington National Cemetery where the delegates laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
The group was welcomed to the U.S. Capitol by Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty. Representative Mark Green also met with students and answered questions.
“An investment in these young people is also an investment in the communities we serve,” said David Callis, CEO of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “These are exceptional students, and our hope is that their youth tour experience empowers them to return home and make a difference in their communities.”
President Lyndon Johnson inspired the Washington Youth Tour in 1957 when he encouraged electric cooperatives to send youngsters to the nation’s capital. In the years since, more than 6,000 young Tennesseans have been delegates on the Washington Youth Tour.
MLEC is a member-owned, not-for-profit electric utility that serves more than 34,500 meters in Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, Lewis and Perry counties. We are helping build brighter futures and make connections possible for those we serve. Learn more at mlec.com.
The Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association provides leadership, advocacy and support for Tennessee’s 23 electric cooperatives and publishes The Tennessee Magazine, the state’s most widely circulated periodical. Visit tnelectric.org or tnmagazine.org to learn more.
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