Local students get unique Washington experience
washington youth tour


Once Logan Addis entered the Capitol Building, he knew he wanted to come back.

“It was amazing to see everything up close and it made everything so real about our government,” says Addis, a rising senior at Walhalla High School. “One of my favorite parts was being in the gallery of the U.S. House of Representatives because that is the room where they make laws. It just felt really powerful.”

Addis, Seneca High’s Elli Berry and Aubrey Richardson of Pickens High were the student delegates sponsored by Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative on Washington Youth Tour, an all-expenses paid trip to the nation’s capital. Savannah Pace of Pickens High was sponsored by Central Electric Power Cooperative. They joined 55 other South Carolina students on visits to historical and educational sites, including George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Arlington National Cemetery, the National Mall and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

In addition to the museums, memorials and monuments, the students spent a day at the U.S. Capitol Building where they toured the complex, visited Congressional offices and met with staff members. Addis, Berry and Richardson went to Rep. Jeff Duncan’s office in the Rayburn House Office Building. U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman and members of U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s staff spent time answering the students’ question on the Capitol steps.

“I really enjoyed hearing the intern’s stories and the specific journey they took,” says Addis. “After this trip, I’m considering becoming an intern in D.C.”

During their visit to Mount Vernon, Berry and fellow youth tourists Lily Baggott of Fairfield Electric Cooperative, Ella Adair of Laurens Electric Cooperative and Jessica Christia of Horry Electric Cooperative participated in a wreath laying ceremony at Mount Vernon’s Slave Memorial and Cemetery, which commemorates the community of enslaved people who lived and worked at Mount Vernon.

“It was a special ceremony, solemn and reverent,” says Berry. “It felt good to be able to recognize the people who worked here, and they often don’t get the recognition they deserve.”

Throughout the trip, the students participated in the Soda Pop Co-op. The co-op sold snacks and beverages to the students. Richardson was one of the students named to the cooperative’s board, which determined the co-op’s manager for the week. As member-consumers, the students each received $7 in capital credits, their share of the co-op’s end-of-trip margins. The exercise allowed the students to learn first-hand how the not-for-profit co-op business model works.

South Carolina’s youth tourists were not the only student delegates in Washington. They were among more than 1,500 representing electric cooperatives across the nation. The students traded their state pins with one another and went on a riverboat dinner cruise along the Potomac River. Students from across the country also gathered for National Youth Day where they learned about the rich history of electric cooperatives and the important role of being an active participant in our democracy.