She could hardly believe her good fortune.
Veronica Petty, a junior at Alvarado High School, had just finished tennis practice on Feb. 23rd when her mom reminded her United Cooperative Services intended to announce the winners of the 2017 Youth Tour that day.
“Anxious as ever, I checked my phone again for emails, as I had been for the whole school day, and was more than delighted to see that email with the subject, ‘2017 Youth Tour Contest Winner,’” she said. “I was ecstatic. I’m still in disbelief that I had actually won the D.C. trip I had tried so hard to win.”
Petty is one of three students who earned a spot in this year’s trip, which seeks to not only teach school children the virtues and business models of electric co-ops, but also the history of the United States and the importance of democracy during a week-long tour of the federal government in action June 7-16 in Washington, D.C.
Other winners included Wesley McHugh, a sophomore at Joshua High School, and Grant Jackson, a sophomore from Alvarado who is homeschooled. They will join more than 140 other Texas high school students comprising the Texas delegation and roughly 1,500 students from across the nation.
Petty said her father had pointed out the contest to her in a story in Texas Co-op Power magazine. As soon as she read the article, she said she had to apply.
“I hope to see and experience our nation’s capital and learn more about its history along with taking a deeper look into how government works,” Petty said. “I’m also hoping to develop friendships among fellow Youth Tour participants and possibly meet representatives. I’m expecting an enjoyable experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. I’m very excited to have the chance to participate in this tour, and I’m definitely looking forward to all the lessons and experiences I’ll gain from this.”
Jackson said he was helping his brothers and his father cut down a tree when his email arrived.
“I would like to see the White House,” he said, anticipating the trips events. “I also read about going to Mount Vernon. Mom’s done a lot of history, so it would be cool to go see all the places we’ve read about. I’m really grateful I’ve gotten the chance to do this.”
This year, United Cooperative Services sponsored two students for the Youth Tour. United is one of 16 member-owned electric distribution cooperatives that buys power from Brazos Electric Power Cooperative, said Jeff Pannell Key Accounts/Business Development Manager who organized this year’s contest. Brazos chooses one of the 16 distribution cooperatives each year to sponsor an extra student, and chose United to receive their extra sponsorship this year.
Competition for this year’s Youth Tour was as fierce as organizers had seen in many years, and selecting the winners was no easy task for our panel of judges, Pannell said.
“This year’s contest included some of the toughest competition that we have ever seen,” he said. “The top 8 applicants were separated by the slimmest of margins, so it was a good thing Brazos gave one more sponsorship to us this year. During the last few years, I have been amazed by many of the essays/PowerPoints that we have had the pleasure of reading. This year’s finalists did not disappoint. The parents and guardians should be extremely proud of their child’s accomplishments, and the schools they attend are fortunate to have such exemplary students.”