Local students visit nation’s capital on Washington Youth Tour

Three students from Lincoln County spent a week in our nation’s capital as delegates of the 2019 Washington Youth Tour. Alyssa Hampton of Riverside Christian Academy, Nathan Posey of Fayetteville High School and Justin Williams of Lincoln County High School joined 132 other students from across Tennessee on the weeklong trip that began on Friday, June 14. 

The annual event, sponsored by Fayetteville Public Utilities and the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, provides young leaders with an opportunity to explore the nation’s capital, learn about government, and develop their leadership skills. Students were selected for the trip by writing short stories titled “Electric Cooperatives – Connecting Communities” that explained how local utilities provide communities with much more than electric power.

“The Youth Tour is a unique opportunity for these young people to experience history and public policy up-close and personal,” says FPU CEO/General Manager Britt Dye. “Tour delegates experience an exciting week visiting museums, monuments and other landmarks and learning about leadership, history and government.”

“We take great pride in recognizing the best and brightest from across Fayetteville-Lincoln County. By honoring their accomplishments through programs like the Washington Youth Tour, we show these future leaders that their utility cares about the future. We want these young people to come home with a better understanding of their nation and new 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 Madame Tussauds Wax Museum 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.

For many, the highlight of the trip was hearing from Holocaust survivor Ms. Esther Starobin at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Her advice to the delegates was, “Don’t be a bystander in this world. You have to know history and pay attention to it. Get involved and learn as much as you can with more than a single viewpoint.”

The group was welcomed to the U.S. Capitol by Sens. Lamar Alexander and Marsha Blackburn and members of the Tennessee congressional delegation who posed for photos and answered questions.

While in D.C., winners were announced in the statewide competition for the Robert McCarty Memorial Scholarships. Jacob Coble from Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative, Alyssa Hampton from Fayetteville Public Utilities and Melanie Garcia from Appalachian Electric Cooperative were awarded $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000 Robert McCarty Memorial Scholarships for having the first, second and third place papers of the more than 10,000 papers submitted across the state.

McCarty was an employee of Volunteer Energy Cooperative and longtime chaperone on the annual Youth Tour. McCarty lost a battle with cancer in 2015, and sponsoring utilities renamed the scholarships in honor of his love for young people.

Keslin Moore, a senior from Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative, was awarded a $10,000 Cooperative Youth Ambassador Scholarship. Moore was a 2018 delegate of the Washington Youth Tour. In the year following the tour, delegates who remain engaged with their sponsoring utility and complete certain community service requirements re eligible for the scholarship. Moore’s name was randomly selected from among the 50 delegates from across the state who completed the requirements.

President Lyndon Johnson inspired the Washington Youth Tour in 1957 when he encouraged rural utilities 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.