The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Bailey Gasvoda talks about her experience in Washinton D.C.

 

September 12, 2018

Last fall I turned in an essay and an application for the 2018 Youth Tour to D.C. Two of my friends went on the tour a few years back and I figured I would give it a shot, but when I submitted my essay and application, I had no clue that I was going to get the trip of a lifetime. Hill County Electric Cooperative was gracious enough to send me on an all-expense paid trip to our nation's capital; Washington D.C.

June 7th: I hopped onto a plane with 42 strangers and headed across the United States. I will admit, I was nervous, but as soon as I started talking to the fellow youth tour participants next to me on the plane I knew I had nothing to worry about, and as the trip went on, I met more and more people and we all became closer and closer. By the end of the trip we had become one, big, family.

Within the 6 days spent in D.C., we visited about every monument and toured nearly every museum. Arlington National Cemetery, Mount Vernon, Marine Corps Museum, Smithsonian, Lincoln Memorial, and the Holocaust Museum are just a few of the many places we got to see, and at each and every one of these places I learned something new.

I had seen pictures and read about all of those places, but seeing them touching them, and basking in their beauty was a feeling that a textbook of the internet won't give you. D.C. is such an incredible place that holds so much value to our nation. It is almost as though you can feel the history when you are simply walking down the street.

Traveling to the various memorials really opens your eyes and you gain a lot of respect for the people that have, and continue to piece together our country and that is why I think everyone should travel to D.C. at some point in their life. The Youth Tour is a great way to get there!

The Montana delegation got to meet with both Senator Steve Daines and Jon Tester to discuss current issues and ask questions about political engagement. Congressman Greg Gianforte was so gracious and gave the Montana and North Dakota Youth Tour participants a private night tour of the capitol! The capitol building is stunning and to be able to have a tour by Greg Gianforte was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

Not only did I get to meet new people and see amazing things, but I also learned more about Electric Co-ops. The National Rural Electric Cooperatives Association have co-ops across America that provide power to not only homes, farms, and facilities, but also people. The co-ops reach out to consumers of all ages and empower them. Hill County Electric empowered me by sending me on the trip of a lifetime to Washington D.C.

Students, write the essay and fill out the application. It is something you should not miss out on! Hill County Electric and Montana Electric Cooperatives Association want you to have this experience, and so do I! As for teachers and parents, encourage your kids to apply.

Traveling to Washington D.C. will teach them so much and they will learn exceptional leadership skills! The Youth Tour to DC is such a positive experience that is truly amazing. Electric Co-ops are so gracious for sending students on this trip of a lifetime. Thank you, Hill County Electric, for providing me with the amazing opportunity of visiting our nation's capital!

Crazily enough, the Youth Tour was not my last trip to D.C. I was sponsored for a return trip in mid-July to go back to Washington to attend the National Youth Leadership Conference.

Upon leaving for the Youth Tour in June I applied to serve as the 2018-2019 Youth Leadership Council Representative. One Montana student who attends the Youth Tour is chosen to represent the state on the National Youth Leadership Council. After submitting an application and presenting a 3-minute speech to the Youth Tour delegation I was chosen to serve as the Montana Representative.

To hold this position, as a state-wide leader, is truly an honor bestowed upon me. I get the chance to advocate for Electric Cooperatives and those in rural areas at the national level!

This time, I caught a plane to D.C. all by myself to represent our state and to attend a leadership conference where I would get another taste of D.C. and also meet with the YLC Representatives from each state. I can proudly say I know one person from nearly every state, as only 45 of the 50 states participate in this program. At the National Youth Leadership Conference in D.C. I was

able to use my voice and present a speech about what Electric Cooperative mean to me and how they influence Montana. I participated in leadership and public speaking workshops, but also had my fair share of fun! The YLC's got to golf, see some more museums, shop, and laugh a lot!

Getting to meet people from all across the United States is so amazing. I often got asked if I had power at my house and if I rode my horse to school...the other YLC's were pretty impressed that Montana had power and established towns, as one girl thought Montana was solely farm ground!

This year as I serve as the 2018-2019 Youth Leadership Council Representative I will be promoting Co-ops Vote, which is a non-partisan project that encourages people living in rural areas to vote and also to promote engagement in key issues involving Electric Co-ops. In March, I will be traveling to Orlando, Florida to attend the National Rural Electric Cooperatives Association Annual Meeting. At the meeting I will rep the Montana flag on stage and give a brief introduction of who I am and where I come from. All of the YLC's will get to advocate for Co-ops Vote and encourage people to use their voice! I am beyond blessed to be able to serve as the 2018-2019 Youth Leadership Council Representative. To be able to advocate for Hill County Electric, my community, Montana Electric Cooperatives Association, and Montana as a whole is something that I am proud to do! If you want to follow me on my journey as the Youth Leadership Representative feel free to check out the Co-ops Vote blog where all of the YLC's will keep up on what they are doing! The web address is https://www.heardfromtheheartland.com/blog. Be sure and check out the posts written by the other students from across America, as they are all incredible individuals!

In conclusion, thank you; Thank you Big Sandy, Hill County Electric Cooperative, Montana Electric Cooperatives Association and the NRECA for supporting me on this remarkable journey that I get to embark on! I am so proud to represent the beautiful, Big-Sky state; MONTANA! And remember, applications for the Youth Tour are due November 30th! Visit http://www.hcelectric.com/youth-tour-washington-dc for the essay topic and application! Don't miss out on this opportunity!

 
 

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