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Big Country EC News

Youth Tour Winners Return From the Trip of a Lifetime

Local students sponsored by Big Country EC share their experiences

They’re back! One hundred and fifty Texas students, including Kameryn Mathis from Haskell High School, Mikel-Ann Terry and Jessy Villagomez from Roby High School, and Devin Hughes from Stamford High School, recently returned from a fast-paced, action-packed and unforgettable 10-day trip to Washington, D.C.

The Government-in-Action Youth Tour, sponsored by Big Country Electric Cooperative, is an all-expenses-paid experience that offers young adults the opportunity to learn about their government and electric cooperatives, make friends and visit famous landmarks.

On the June trip, the Texas delegates met with their elected representatives to discuss current issues. They toured Capitol Hill and the Library of Congress. They also explored monuments and museums, including Mount Vernon, the National Cathedral, the Smithsonian Institution, the Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Lincoln, Jefferson and Vietnam Veterans memorials, among others. They spent time at Arlington National Cemetery while attending a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The group enjoyed a sightseeing cruise on the Potomac River with students from other states and took in a show at the Kennedy Center.

Other events included Youth Day, coordinated by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, when all of the approximately 1,700 Youth Tour delegates from about 45 states came together for a special event with guest speakers.

Big Country EC has sponsored students on Youth Tour since 1966 as part of its mission to support the communities it serves.

Here’s what this year’s Youth Tour participants had to say about the experience:

Mikel-Ann Terry: This summer, I had the opportunity to attend Youth Tour. When I won, I was so excited for the trip but was unsure if I could make it for 10 days with 150 other strangers. By the second day I knew that these strangers were quickly becoming my friends. I traveled across the United States, toured historical monuments that have been around for hundreds of years, and learned more about our nation and the people within it at numerous museums. I loved every second of it—but most of all I loved the people who were becoming family. Within this short trip, my life has changed. I made relationships that will last a lifetime, and I owe it all to Youth Tour. I am so thankful for this experience and would do it all again if I had the chance.

Kameryn Mathis: The 2018 Youth Tour was one of the best experiences I have had in my life. We had the chance to visit historical sites that many people never get the chance to witness. We even had the rare and special opportunity to visit with our congressman, Jodey Arrington. In addition, the best part of the trip to our nation’s capital was the friendships that I made. I met over 100 leaders from across Texas who made the trip so memorable. I am extremely thankful for Big Country EC and all the individuals who made this trip possible for me. It was truly the trip of a lifetime.

Devin Hughes: The 2018 Youth Tour was an amazing experience that I will cherish forever! One of my favorite parts of the trip was going to Mount Vernon and being where George Washington once stood. It was also so much fun meeting people from across the United States and trading pins with everyone. Youth Tour impacted me by allowing me to learn about the history of our country and being able to see our country’s government in action! Youth Tour was an incredible adventure that I hope everyone can experience!

Jessy Villagomez: Youth Tour was definitely the trip of a lifetime, and I just want to thank Big Country Electric for giving me the opportunity to go on this trip. I was able to learn so much about our country and about how important rural towns are to co-ops. The monuments and all the sights were amazing and breathtaking! My favorite part had to be the Air and Space Museum. When we got there, I felt like a little kid jumping up and down and going crazy because I was so excited to be there! I also made some great friends who I still keep in contact with, and they’re some of the best people I’ve ever met. This trip was the trip of a lifetime, and I highly recommend doing the contest.