Five local high school students were recently selected to receive an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., sponsored by Dakota Electric Association. The winners are Lisa Beard and Mary Gao, both of Rosemount High School; Clint Birtzer, Rosemount, is home schooled; Matthew Hardegger, Burnsville High School and Casey Casella, Eagan High School. Nicole Fairchild, Burnsville High School and Russell Howland, Eagan High School were selected as alternates. The students will participate in the National Rural Electric Association’s (NRECA) annual Washington, D.C. Youth Tour, scheduled for June 11-16.

Each June, more than 1,200 high school students from around the United States travel to Washington, D.C. for the NRECA Youth Tour. The participants are selected and sponsored by their local electric cooperatives. During the week, the students learn about government, cooperatives and rural electrification. They will have the opportunity to tour many of Washington, D.C.’s sites, including the Smithsonian, the FBI Building and the Vietnam Memorial, and they also have a chance to meet their elected officials.

“Dakota Electric is proud to sponsor local students to attend an event like the Washington, D.C. Youth Tour,” President and CEO Greg Miller said. “Some of the nation’s brightest students gather together to have fun and learn about our government.”

A panel of judges selected students after reviewing the student applications and interviewing them.

“We want to thank all of the applicants for this year’s Youth Tour,” Peggy Johnson, Dakota Electric’s community relations director, said. “We wish we could send all the students on the trip, but we have to narrow it down to five, which is always a hard decision.”

Applications from high school juniors and seniors are accepted for the Youth Tour program each January.