Local students at D.C. leadership event

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When 1,700 of America’s best and brightest students, including 111 delegates from Georgia, recently gathered for one week in the nation’s capital, they overwhelmingly agreed it was the experience of a lifetime.  

This leadership event, for which Georgia’s electric membership corporations—and EMCs across the U.S.—sent hundreds of high school students to D.C., is called Washington Youth Tour.

Held June 11-18 this year, the Youth Tour is an annual event and fully sponsored by 38 of the EMCs in Georgia, including Coweta-Fayette EMC. It stands as Georgia’s oldest leadership program for teens to applaud them for leading the way in their local communities, provide them a chance to see history come to life and give them a rare opportunity to connect with other student leaders like themselves from across the country.

“Youth Tour is our way of saying ‘thank you for choosing to be a leader.’ We know in today’s world, it’s difficult to stand up for the right things, and these students do that every day,” said Gale Cutler, Georgia EMC’s Washington Youth Tour director. “We’re delighted to give them this amazing opportunity.”

According to Coweta-Fayette EMC Senior Public Relations VP Mary Ann Bell, the Youth Tour is a natural extension of EMCs’ role as major contributors to the state as a whole, providing leadership in education, school and youth programs, charitable giving and community support.

In fact, this year, Coweta-Fayette EMC and other electric co-ops in Georgia celebrated 50 years of sponsoring students for this prestigious leadership event.

The first Washington Youth Tour for teens in Georgia took place in 1965 and involved a dozen students. It also included an invitation from President Lyndon Johnson to a Rose Garden reception in the White House.

Since that time, more than 3,000 teens have been sponsored by EMCs in Georgia and given the same opportunity to absorb the country’s rich heritage and to understand the importance of their participation in a productive society.

“Electric co-ops do much more than provide safe, reliable and affordable electricity,” said Bell. “We’re dedicated to improving the future of students in our community because we know they are next in line to lead the way.”

To give them a boots-on-the-ground experience, the students visited historic landmarks and national treasures like Arlington National Cemetery, the Smithsonian Museums, the Holocaust Museum, Mount Vernon, the Supreme Court, the Capitol, the Washington Monument and the MLK, FDR, Jefferson, World War II and Lincoln Memorials. For the first time this year, they visited the new American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial.

Students also gained perspective on some of today’s important issues and their role as involved citizens during discussions with staff and/or members of Georgia’s congressional delegation, including personal visits and photos with Sens. David Perdue and Johnny Isakson and U.S. Reps. Buddy Carter, Doug Collins, Jody Hice, Barry Loudermilk, Austin Scott, Lynn Westmoreland and Rob Woodall.

This year, Coweta-Fayette EMC selected Sandy Creek High School student Shelby Worrell and East Coweta High School student Min Lim to attend the 2015 Washington Youth Tour.

Coweta-Fayette EMC is a consumer-owned cooperative providing electricity and related services to more than 76,000 member accounts in Coweta, Fayette, Heard, South Fulton, Clayton, Spalding, Troup and Meriwether Counties.