More than 1,800 students from around the country attended the annual Electric Cooperative Youth Tour in Washington, D.C. from June 15-21, including Nodak’s own Harrison Stockeland, a junior at Grand Forks Central High School.
Each year, Nodak sponsors one student for the event. Now in its 55th year, the Youth Tour was established to help educate youth about the political process and allow students to visit national monuments and interact with U.S. government officials.
Harrison was motivated to apply for the Youth Tour to learn more about Washington and to meet other students. “It was truly a magical experience, meeting new people from lots of different states. I made an uncountable number of friends and a few who will be friends for life,” Harrison said.
Students toured the National Museum of the Marine Corps and the Smithsonian museums, cruised down the Potomac on a riverboat and visited Arlington National Cemetery, the National Archives, the Holocaust Museum and Gettysburg National Military Park. Th e group had opportunities to explore the East Wing of the White House and saw all the major monuments, including the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and more.
Tour participants also enjoyed a Capitol Hill Day, during which they toured the Capitol and met with Rep. Kelly Armstrong, Sen. John Hoeven and a representative for Sen. Kevin Cramer.
Along with touring Washington, D.C. and visiting the White House, all Youth Tour students gathered for Rural Electric Youth Day to hear featured Grand Forks Central student joins hundreds of co-op peers for Washington, D.C. experience speakers provide insight on the important roles electric cooperatives play in their communities. They participated in a pin-trading event, where trading state pins with other students from other states helped them to meet new people.
Harrison has traveled to Washington, D.C. before, but the idea of a cooperative was new to him.
“I didn’t know much about electric cooperatives,” he said. “I thought that electric cooperatives just provided power, but we had a speaker who was a lineman and he went to Haiti to help set up power in their community. It was awesome to see how passionate he was about helping. Th at is what cooperatives are about – community.”
Harrison said he enjoyed the entire trip, but the highest point was the people.
“It truly was all that I was told it would be,” he said, “and more!”