FARMINGTON , Minn. (July 11, 2007) — Five students from high schools in Dakota County recently returned from a trip-of-a-lifetime to Washington D.C. The group joined more than 1,400 students from around the nation (35 total from Minnesota) for the 44th annual Rural Electric Youth Tour held June 9-14. Dakota Electric Association awarded the students an all-expense-paid trip after submitting an application and being interviewed by a panel of judges in March. The five local winners were Craig Belisle, Cory Etzkorn, Jacob Maxon, Jordan Wong, all students at Burnsville High School, and Molly Sturgis, Hastings High School. Each year in June, an activity-filled week affords these high school youth opportunities to learn first hand what it is like to be involved in politics, community development and today’s social issues.

Highlights consisted of meeting with their elected representatives, including senators Coleman and Klobuchar, and learning about governmental processes, issues of the day, electric cooperatives and American history.

Wong was selected as our Youth Leadership Council representative for Minnesota. The selection process included filling out an extensive application and being interviewed.

“Jordan was outstanding in every way,” said Share Brandt of the Minnesota Rural Electric Association. Wong will return to Washington, D.C. July 21-25, 2007, for the Youth Leadership Conference. At the conference, he will learn about co-op issues and leadership. He will also practice speech writing and presenting. Wong will also attend the National Rural Electric Association Annual Meeting in Anaheim, California,
February 22-27, 2008.

In addition to taking in the sights and sounds of Washington D.C., all state groups convened for Rural Electric Youth Day on June 11 to learn from public figures and other inspirational speakers.

Mike Schlappi, a four-time Paralympic medalist and two-time World Champion wheelchair basketball champion, gave an inspiring message for every American, young or old: “Just because you can’t stand up, doesn’t mean you can’t stand out.”

Since 1964, the National Rural Electric Association has been coordinating the annual youth tour. In that time, the nation’s cooperative electric utilities have sponsored more than 42,400 high school students for visits to their U.S. congressional delegations, grassroots government education sessions and sightseeing in Washington.

Students wishing to participate in Youth Tour 2008 should watch Dakota Electric’s newsletter or Web site in January or contact their guidance counselor.

Note: Dakota Electric’s students are at the following locations in the picture: front row, fifth from left, Molly Sturgis (hot pink shirt). Second row, three people from right side is Jacob Maxon (green shirt) and on his right is Jordan Wong (light blue). Back row, first person on right is Craig Beslisle (light blue). Two more over from Craig is Cory Etzkorn (white).