With the 2019 Washington Youth Tour in the rearview mirror, the process for selecting six students for the 2020 educational trip is underway.
The deadline for applications is Oct. 11. Mohave Electric Cooperative staff will review the applications and select approximately 12 finalists to conduct an oral presentation on a specific subject on Nov. 14. Six winners and an alternate will be selected from a panel of four judges.
Only students who are juniors during the 2019-2020 school year are eligible to apply and their parent or legal guardian must be a member of MEC.
From June 18-25, 2020, the students head to Washington, D.C. for an all-expense paid educational trip-of-a-lifetime.
“It’s a great experience for the students,” said Terry Puryear, public affairs and communications coordinator at MEC and one of the 2019 chaperones. “There’s a lot of walking, but it’s the kind of trip that can influence the course of a student’s life.”
The schedule is packed from the day everyone arrives in Phoenix for orientation until the day they return to Sky Harbor International Airport.
"I drove my son and two other students back home from the airport,” said Carey Fearing. “They slept nearly the entire drive. The trip absolutely wore them out, but Caleb (Fearing) was still talking about the experience weeks after he returned.”
There’s no shortage of things to discuss.
From the somber experiences at Arlington National Cemetery and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to the history-filled Smithsonian museums and learning about the cooperative model. The Washington Youth Tour takes students from across the nation on an educational experience unattainable from behind a desk.
“Reading about or watching a video of historical events is a learning experience, but you can’t replace the hands-on opportunity the youth tour provides,” Puryear said. “I had the unique chance to watch student reactions at different sites. The Holocaust Museum and Arlington National Cemetery were emotionally difficult for some, but they all valued the opportunity to learn.
“During interviews, I heard some students talk about how all the headstones at Arlington gave them a different perspective on the price of freedom.”
The trip isn’t without some moments of levity.
The last two youth tour trips included a Washington Nationals baseball game. It just so happened the visiting team in 2019 was the Arizona Diamondbacks. There was also a chance to take a bike ride around the city for a few students.
But the focus was clear: education. Students visited Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, many of the memorials, including Lincoln and Jefferson, the United States Capitol, and had an opportunity to meet with Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar.
“It’s our nation’s capital,” Puryear said after his first assignment as a chaperone. “You can’t beat it. Trips like this can change a student’s life and I hope we see more students competing for one of the six spots sponsored by MEC in 2020.”
Sophomores who are thinking ahead to the 2021 Washington Youth Tour are welcome to attend the presentations beginning at 6 p.m., Nov. 14 at the Mohave Community College Bullhead City campus.