This year, Barry Electric Cooperative is offering local high school juniors an exciting opportunity to visit the state and national capitals. Local students will take part in the Missouri Youth Tour and Missouri CYCLE programs this summer.
"In June, Missouri Youth Tour will make its 48th trip to Washington, D.C.," said Kerry Mattingly, Barry Electric member services, "but this will be the first year that Barry Electric has offered the program to local students."
After receiving board approval to place the Youth Tour and CYCLE programs in the 2011 budget, Mattingly contacted counselors from area school districts and arranged program presentations at local high schools.
"I went in and showed the kids the DVDs from last year's trips," said Mattingly. "The kids were really excited about the program. Exeter even participated as a class project."
Students were challenged to participate in an essay contest. All high school juniors attending schools located in Barry Electric's service area were eligible to compete in the contest.
Participating students were required to submit a typewritten essay between 500 and 750 words in length. The essay question for this year's contest was, "It's 2011, from your perspective as a junior in high school, what do you feel are the greatest challenges America faces in the next 10 years?"
Three community members were chosen to judge the contest. Students were evaluated on knowledge, originality, composition, grammar and the appearance of the entry.
The students who composed the top two essays will attend Missouri Youth Tour in Washington, D.C., June 10 through June 16. Two runners-up will have the opportunity to attend Cooperative Youth Conference and Leadership Experience (CYCLE) in Jefferson City July 13 through July 15.
While in Washington, D.C., Missouri Youth Tour participants will visit the White House, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Iwo Jima Memorial, the Supreme Court, the National Cathedral, Ford's Theater, the Smithsonian and several other memorials and historic locations.
"The students who attend Missouri CYCLE will take part in team-building activities," said Mattingly. "They will also have the opportunity to discuss a bill on the floor of the Capitol."
The trips will offer students the chance of a lifetime to learn more about state and federal government. All expenses will be paid except for costs associated with souvenir purchases, said Mattingly.
"I hope these trips allow the students to get a sense of how unique and special it is to travel somewhere," said Mattingly. "It is a valuable opportunity to get to do this. I hope the Youth Tour in particular allows students to get a sense of what our nation is all about and how it has become what it is today."
Students who take part in Youth Tour could be named as delegates to the Youth Leadership Council (YLC). One student is chosen from each state to serve as a YLC delegate. Last year, a student from Mt. Vernon received the honor.
"Barry Electric was really interested in giving students this opportunity," said Mattingly. "When students are from an area that is so rural, they don't have as many chances to travel. As a coop, we wanted to help kids receive that opportunity."
Local students selected to participate in Missouri Youth Tour and Missouri CYCLE are from Exeter and Cassville high schools. The names of the selected students will be announced at a reception on May 12. Dr. Connie Butler, who attended Youth Tour as a high school junior, will serve as guest speaker at the reception.
For more information on the Youth Tour or CYCLE programs, call Mattingly at 847-2131 or visit www.youthtour.coop.