Over the past 54 years, South Plains Electric Cooperative has sent 246 local students on the trip of a lifetime. That trip is called the Government-in-Action Youth Tour and is held each June in Washington, D.C.
For the Steed Family of Childress, attending the Youth Tour has become a family affair.
Paige Tanner Steed attended the trip in 1993 after winning an essay contest through Southwest Texas Electric Cooperative. Fast forward 23 years and her oldest daughter, Payton, won the interview contest hosted by South Plains Electric Cooperative and her youngest daughter, Ansley, followed suit in 2019. All three were able to experience the trip of a lifetime sponsored by their cooperative.
When Payton was old enough to apply for the trip, her mom, Paige, thought what if. “How weird to think that if, in 1993, someone would have told me that both of my daughters would be attending the same trip one day,” Paige said.
Both Payton and Ansley were inspired to apply for the Youth Tour trip because of the stories they had heard their mom talk about as they were growing up. “After hearing all these stories, I said ‘I’ve got to go on this trip.’ Even before I got into high school, this was a goal of mine,” Ansley said. “If it wasn’t for my mom and sister, I wouldn’t have been as motivated to apply.”
All three agreed that it was the people they met on the trip that made it so memorable. Whether through social media or sharing Christmas cards each year, the Steed girls continue to keep in touch with the friends they met while on the trip.
While on the Government-in-Action Youth Tour, students meet with their congressmen and tour the U.S. Capitol Building, Library of Congress and Supreme Court. Participants also visit monuments and memorials including the Holocaust Museum, Arlington National Cemetery, the Washington National Cathedral and Mount Vernon.
Payton said she benefitted the most from the knowledge she received on the Youth Tour. She was able to gain new perspectives, learn about the government and how important it is.
Not only does the Youth Tour educate participants on our nation’s rich history, it educates them on the value electric cooperatives play in our communities. “The Co-op does more than anyone notices, it is incredible. Throughout this experience, I became very thankful for South Plains Electric Co-op,” Payton said.
The Youth Tour has been dubbed “The Trip of a Lifetime” because of the incredible relationships and memories that are made. “This trip is changing lives for students who are making decisions about their future,” Paige said. “By being among other leaders on this trip, I set goals for myself that I might not have set, had I not attended the trip. I would say that it is life changing, and I know it did it for my two girls, too.”
If you are a high school junior or senior and are interested in learning more about what the Youth Tour has to offer, visit SPEC.coop/youthtour.