For Youth Tour participants, history comes to life

By Brad Barr


For a group of excited Mississippi high school juniors, history repeated itself during their recent tour of Washington, D.C.

The visual journey of our nation’s monuments brought the pages of their history books to life—live and in color. Subrina Oswalt of West Point and Caden Teer of Weir said the experience spoke volumes. The duo recently participated in Youth Tour 2013, June 15-21, in Washington.

“This trip was a life-changing experience,” Oswalt said. “It has left me with a humble heart, open mind, pride and appreciation for my state and country.”

Teer agreed. “It was just absolutely amazing,” he said of the trip. “Words cannot even express how great this experience was.”

Oswalt, a student at Hebron Christian School, and Teer, a student at Weir Attendance Center, represented

4-County Electric Power Association in the annual leadership program developed by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

The Youth Tour is designed to offer students from across the nation the opportunity to meet their elected officials, watch government in action and tour historically-significant sites, memorials and museums.

Highlights of the event included meeting with their elected representatives in the U.S. House and Senate to discuss the process of government and issues of the day, and learning more about rural electric cooperatives and American history.

The Youth Tour is a joint effort of local electric cooperatives (like 4-County), their statewide cooperative associations (such as Electric Power Associations of Mississippi) and the NRECA.

Oswalt and Teer said leadership lessons learned at the Youth Tour were invaluable. “I would refer to this experience as a huge step towards becoming the leader I want to be,” Oswalt explained.

Teer enjoyed learning from fellow student leaders. “This experience will help me grow as a leader by teaching me to be more open-minded and considerate of the ideas of those around me, enabling me to see the big picture more clearly,” he said.

Oswalt and Teer joined 68 other students comprising Mississippi’s delegation to the event. Nationwide, about 1,500 students participated. For both young students, the opportunity to interact with other young leaders was priceless.

Prior to the Youth Tour, Oswalt and Teer participated in the Youth Leadership Workshop, sponsored by the Jackson-based Electric Power Associations of Mississippi. The annual workshop offers high school students the opportunities to hear motivational speakers, take part in team-building exercises and see legislators in action at the state Capitol.

Oswalt and Teer competed with 14 other high school juniors in 4-County’s service area for the honor to participate in the program. Nominated by his or her school, each competing student completed an application reflecting scholastic and extracurricular activities. The application also included several short essay questions.

In addition, students were provided information about cooperatives and 4-County to introduce them to the cooperative form of business.

A panel of three judges interviewed each of the 16 students at 4-County’s Corporate Center earlier this year.