Nine area high-school juniors are a step away from a trip to Washington, D.C., as part of Co-Mo's 51st annual Youth Tour competition.
The nine students, all high-school juniors, will compete in the event's finals Nov. 21 at the First Baptist Church in Tipton, seeking one of the three Co-Mo-sponsored spots on the trip, which runs June 13-19, 2014.
The finalists are:
• Courtney Templemire, Pilot Grove High School
• Amber Engelbrecht, Stover High School
• Katie Hinck, Stover High School
• Olivia Imhoff, Boonville High School
• Alli Carpenter, Tipton High School
• Katherine Loganbill, Tipton High School
• Josey Wright, Prairie Home High School
• Jaden Barr, California High School
• Morgan Henley, California High School
Youth Tour began in 1957 after then-Sen. Lyndon Johnson spoke to a gathering of electric cooperative leaders and challenged them to send young people to Washington, D.C., so they could see what the flag stands for. Missouri joined the growing Youth Tour in 1964, with Co-Mo sending 11 delegates as part of the inaugural class. The 2013 Youth Tour trip sent more than 85 students from Missouri to join up with more than 1,500 from across the country for a whirlwind weeklong tour of the nation's capital.
"The Youth Tour program is one of the most important things we do as an electric cooperative," said Ken Johnson, Co-Mo's CEO and General Manager. "It provides an in-person learning experience about this country and its history that the delegates might otherwise never get. It's something totally different than you can learn in a textbook or a classroom."
Delegates on the trip visit the major monuments and museums, including the Smithsonian complex. They also visit in small groups with their elected leaders from the House of Representatives to talk with them about their concerns and issues.
"Having that time in such a small group with someone who is in such an important position in our country, right there in the Capitol, is an invaluable experience that really sticks with the kids," said John Agliata, the cooperative's Youth Tour Coordinator and a chaperone on the 2010 trip.
This year's contest began in late August when Agliata visited local schools to talk about the project students would have to complete to enter. This year's contest question focused on Co-Mo's history, tying in with the cooperative's upcoming 75th anniversary in 2014. Students were asked to write an essay, film a video or compile a presentation that explained Co-Mo's founding and the importance of the success of its mission back in the 1930s.
"The electric cooperative story is such an important one to the fabric of this area. Through this project students were able to learn more about that story and how some of their ancestors played a role in making it all happen," Agliata said.
Three judges scored the nearly 100 projects submitted for the contest. The three top scores from each of Co-Mo's three service districts advanced to the finals. There, finalists will take a written test, present their projects and participate in a game show. The judges' scores will be tallied and the top scorer from each district will be on his or her way to Washington.
"The runners-up don't go away empty handed," Agliata said. "Just getting to the finals is a huge accomplishment, so we give them $250 college scholarships for making it that far."
For more information about the Youth Tour program, visit co-mo.coop/youthtour.aspx.