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5 students in front of capitol building

Dakota Electric’s Youth Tour students pose for a picture in front of the capitol building while in Washington D.C. (L-R): Jacob Widen, Michelle Quan, Emily Hull, Sarah Most and Mitchell Conzemius.

Five area high school students, sponsored by Dakota Electric Association, recently returned from a Washington D.C. trip-of-a-lifetime. Dakota Electric’s students joined more than 1,800 students from across the nation (40 from Minnesota) for the 53rd annual National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) Rural Electric Youth Tour held June 9-14. Dakota Electric awarded the students the trip after they completed the application and interview process in March. The five local winners were Mitchell Conzemius, Hastings High School; Emily Hull, Eagan High School; Sarah Most, Eastview High School; Michelle Quan, Rosemount High School; and Jacob Widen, Burnsville High School.

Each year in June, an activity-filled week affords high school youth from around the nation opportunities to learn first hand what it is like to be involved in politics, community development and today’s social issues. The events of the 2018 Youth Tour consisted of learning about governmental processes, issues of the day, electric cooperatives, American history and meeting with elected legislators, including Representatives Lewis and Emmer and Senator Smith.

Students had fun, enjoyed seeing many sites and memorials, learned many things and made memories.

“It was an incredible experience, and I am very grateful,” said Quan.

“This was such an incredible experience and will be one of the most memorable weeks of my life,” Hull said. “I loved visiting the monuments and museums, and it was so cool meeting people from all over Minnesota.”

In addition to taking in the sights and sounds of Washington D.C., all state groups convened for Rural Electric Youth Day 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.”

The Electric Cooperative Youth Tour has been a joint effort of local electric co-ops, such as Dakota Electric, their statewide co-op associations, including the Minnesota Rural Electric Association, and the NRECA, since 1964. In that time, more than 60,000 high school students from the nation’s cooperative electric utilities have visited their U.S. congressional lawmakers, attended grassroots government education sessions and enjoyed sightseeing in Washington D.C.

Students wishing to participate in Youth Tour 2019 (June 15-20) should watch for information in Dakota Electric’s newsletter or on the Web site in January or contact their school’s guidance counselor.