2019 Youth Tour: Day 1 Blog
It’s here! At long last, the big day has arrived! The 2019 Youth Tour’s trip to Washington D.C.! It all started several months ago, when I wrote an essay and entered the La Plata Electric Association Youth Tour contest.
My essay was one of five compositions selected by a panel of judges, and I was invited to represent my electric cooperative and Colorado in Washington, D.C. at the National Youth Tour Conference. I still can’t believe that I have been given this opportunity. Thank you, La Plata Electric Association!
“Welcome to the Colorado Youth Tour! You are now officially on your way to Denver, Gettysburg, and Washington, D.C. for the trip of a lifetime”, commented Lonnie Tucker as our group of Heleny Zacamolpa, Irie Sentner and me (Diego Salinas) pulled out of the Bayfield High School and headed to Ignacio High School to pick up Larissa Gallegos. Next stop, Plata Electric Association branch office in Pagosa Springs to pick up Emma Happ. While we were in the lobby Diego pointed out a copy of the Colorado Country Life. We are featured in a Youth Tour article in the April 2019 edition.
Lonnie took several pictures of our group. We also witnessed several marmots just hanging out and enjoying the sun. Back in the Yukon and continued our journey on Highway 160 as Lonnie continued to explain the dynamics of a cooperative. We had no idea our families are members of La Plata Electric Cooperative. Ok, so there are more than 36,000 members but it is nice to know we are so much more than just a customer.
We turned left in Del Norte and headed north on Highway 285 to Buena Vista. We visited Sangre de Christo Electric Association and met Youth Tour delegates Megan Armstrong, Rylie Flavin, Justin and Victoria Robitaille and Isabella Warholoski. We also had the opportunity to meet Paul Erickson, General Manager and CEO, and Chris McGinnis, Communication Specialist and Youth Tour Coordinator. Thank you, Sangre de Christo Electric Association for your hospitality!
Outside the Sangre de Christo office Lonnie pointed out the solar panels and talked about renewable energy and how La Plata Electric Association uses a mixture of green power in their energy portfolio. We continued our conversation about energy production and how electricity is transferred from the generation facilities to our homes, businesses and schools. We are scheduled to visit La Plata Electric’s energy provider, Tri-State Generation and Transmission, in Denver tomorrow morning.
We are so excited we finally made it to Denver! It only took seven hours, but it was a great trip and we learned a lot about the cooperative business model. We met Empire Electric Association’s Youth Tour delegate Cassie Gatlin and Youth Tour chaperones Clint and Alicen Rapier at the hotel. After introductions it was time for us to find a bite to eat… After dinner, Lonnie took everyone to the Denver Escape Room!
Youth Tour delegate team building exercise. Take one... Amnesia. We had 60 minutes to solve numerous problems which unlocked boxes to reveal additional clues. Along the way we had to obtain objects to help us in our quest to escape and find an antidote to cure the amnesia... Whoa! It was awesome!
We did it! We worked together and completed the Amnesia game with 9:43 remaining. Yes! It was a great way to end our first day as Youth Tour delegates. We can’t wait to meet the other Colorado and Wyoming Youth Tour delegates tomorrow!
Good night from Denver…
Emma, Heleny, Larissa, Diego and Irie
2019 Youth Tour: Day 2 Blog
Good morning, Denver! We got to sleep in this morning, so everyone was ready to go. First stop, breakfast at the Village Inn. Lonnie continued our cooperative education as we enjoyed our pancakes. Did I say pancakes? Pancakes and waffles smothered with strawberries, blueberries and syrup, bacon, bacon, and more bacon, eggs and muffins with milk and orange juice to drink. Lonnie said Tropicana is a cooperative and member-owned by a group of Florida growers. We did not know that, but now we do and hopefully you do as well. Cool!
10:00 a.m. Back to the hotel to find students everywhere. Lonnie escorted us inside and introduced us to Liz Fiddes, who works for the Colorado Rural Electric Association in Denver and is the Colorado Youth Tour Coordinator. She is awesome! Liz was super busy trying to meet everyone and hand out their Youth Tour information packets…
Lonnie also introduced us to our Youth Tour chaperones: Robin Feezer, Wyoming Rural Electric Association; David Reher, Federated Rural Electric Insurance Exchange, Alicen and Clint Rapier, Empire Electric Association; Missy Biegler, Powder River Energy Cooperative; and Sarah Schaefer from Mountainview Electric Association. We will be traveling with 53 Youth Tour delegates from Colorado and Wyoming and seven chaperones. Cooperation among cooperatives on a national level. Go Colorado and Wyoming!
11:00 a.m. First stop on our Youth Tour adventure in Denver, the Colorado State Capitol. We were running a little behind schedule, so we went right to the top. The top of the Gold Dome! We climbed like a million stairs and ended up in the attic. Mr. Brown’s Attic! The view from outside the dome was incredible, and you could walk all the way around the top of the dome for a magnificent view of Colorado. They even had markers pointing to specific mountain peaks and other famous Colorado landmarks in and around Denver.
We got to visit both the Senate and House Chambers. Blake, our tour guide, explained the process of a typical Colorado Senate and House of Representatives meeting, and the traditions and rules that apply during these meetings. Liz also explained the differences between the House and the Senate. Did you know that the House is made up of 65 Representatives while there are 35 Senators? Most of us did not know that. Now we both do!
After the tour we met Senator Kerry Donovan, Democrat-District 5, and she talked to our group for about thirty minutes explaining her position and duties as a Colorado Senator. She talked about the bills that she was a part of and how they become law.
1:00 p.m. Next stop, Tri-State Generation and Transmission in Westminster. Wow! This place is super cool. Lonnie talked about the relationship between Tri-State Generation and Transmission and Colorado’s electric cooperatives. Like La Plata Electric Association, Tri-State is member-owned by 43-member cooperatives and is managed by a board of directors comprised of representatives from each cooperative they serve. Lonnie stated Kirsten Skeehan, from Pagosa Springs, is our LPEA representative on the Tri-State Board of Directors.
Michelle Pastor of Tri-State Generation and Transmission put on a great presentation titled the Story Behind the Switch. She did a great job explaining exactly how energy is produced using each for of generation. Very fascinating and educational. Michelle had lots of hands on displays and used volunteers through her demonstrations. Have you ever made a human circuit? It was awesome! Everyone had a great time and learned a lot about generating electricity. Thanks, Michelle!
3:00 p.m. Tri-State provided us with a tour of their Operations Center. Top secret stuff in here! Not really, but you need to have an escort to enter the highly secured Operations Center. The center is where Tri-State manages its transmission infrastructure to deliver power to more than 1.3 million members in Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming.
7:00 p.m. Dinner at C.B. Potts. It was awesome! Colorado Senator Faith Winter from District 24 and Adams County joined us and talked about her role in politics. Faith is the Chair of the Senate Transportation & Energy Committee and considers matters concerning energy development and regulation. We then met 2018 Colorado Youth Tour delegate and Youth Leadership Council representative Andrew Littlefield. Andy talked about his experiences during the 2018 Youth Tour and how he was elected by his fellow delegates to represent Colorado in Washington, D.C. last summer. He told us what to expect on the Youth Tour and even a great story about Lonnie!
Stay tuned for more highlights and pictures from our day…
Emma, Heleny, Larissa, Diego and Irie
2019 Youth Tour: Day 3 Blog
Friday morning. The Colorado Youth Tour chaperones provided a wake-up call at 5:15 a.m. Yes, 5:15 a.m. We should have gone to bed when they told us last night. Everybody loaded their luggage into the bus, and we pulled out of the hotel parking lot at 6:15 a.m.
7:00 a.m. United Power in Brighton, Colorado. We toured the electric cooperative facility and attended an electric safety demonstration. The demonstration was led by a United Power lineman who experienced a near fatal contact with a three-phase utility line. He was severely injured and received burns covering 80 percent of his body. He lost his right arm due to his injuries and went through more than 100 surgeries and took several years to recover. An incredible story of determination and the will to live. Now he is teaching electrical safety and his message is one you will never forget!
8:00 a.m. We arrived at the Denver International Airport and unloaded 78 pieces of luggage for 53 Youth Tour delegates and seven chaperones… Yes, the numbers don’t add-up! We lined-up at the Southwest Airlines counter. Everyone checked their bags and received their boarding pass for the flight to Washington Dulles International Airport. Yes!
Then we went around the corner and saw the number of people lined-up at the TSA security check point. It took about an hour for everyone to go through the TSA inspection and make it to our Southwest Airlines gate. This left us with about 20 minutes to get and eat breakfast before boarding our plane.
10:55 a.m. Southwest Airlines Flight #409 pulled-off the runway and headed east as just about every Colorado Youth Tour delegate and chaperone fell asleep.
Our plane landed at 4:20 p.m. at Washington Dulles International Airport. Liz planned for us to us to use a deluxe motor coach for our transportation to Washington, D.C. We loaded our luggage for the second time today and Clint counted the delegates for the fifth time this morning. 1, 2, 3… 53! All delegates present and accounted for. Let’s roll, Colorado and Wyoming! Within seconds, Mr. B, our driver pulled out of the airport and headed south on the George Washington Memorial Parkway.
The delegates cheered when we could finally see the Washington, D.C. skyline. As we drove through the city, we could see the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol rising above the skyline. It was awesome! Liz announced what each building was as we made our way through the city streets. She provided lots of interesting facts about Washington, D.C. The number of people walking on the sidewalks beside the streets and along the National Mall was unbelievable. Mr. B pulled up on the west end of the United States Capitol, opened the doors, and everyone jumped out with their phones in their hands taking a million pictures.
7:30 p.m. Wow! First up for our Youth Tour today was the Lincoln Memorial. It’s stunning in the evening sunset. The Reflecting Pool was beautiful with the reflection of the Washington Monument. We climbed the stairs and saw the marker where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. What an incredible moment that must have been for the individuals who witnessed this historic event.
We gazed at the 19-foot marble statue of Honest Abe. Wow! What an amazing monument highlighting our 16th President and his famous speeches like the Gettysburg address. All the Youth Tour delegates were amazed at the size of Lincoln’s statue. We have seen it in numerous pictures and movies, but to stand before it and truly see the grand scale of this statue is magnificent. Thank you, La Plata Electric Association for providing us with this experience!
We visited the Vietnam War Veterans Memorial. Pictures do not capture the magnitude of this grand memorial. Unlike the other memorials in Washington, D.C. which rise above the ground level, the Vietnam War Veterans Memorial features two black granite walls that are sunk into the ground.
The two walls stretch more than 250 feet each and contain 144 panels containing the names of more than 58,000 men and women who died for our country. The names seemed to continue forever. All the war memorials helped me realize the true toll of war and gave me a better appreciation for our service men and women.
The Korean War Veterans Memorial features polished black granite walls with more than 2,500 images of soldiers etched into the stone. There are 19 statues of soldiers, each larger than life, patrolling the memorial grounds. This creates a rather unique reflection on the memorial’s walls.
The memorial is highlighted by a large circular pool, called the Pool of Remembrance, that is bordered by black granite stones that list the number of American soldiers killed, wounded, missing in action and held as a prisoner of war. There is an inscription on one of the walls that reads “Freedom Is Not Free.”
Mr. B picked us up at 9:30 p.m. and we headed across town to check into our hotel, the Hilton Chrystal City in Arlington, Virginia. There are about 800 other Youth Tour delegates from states across America at our hotel. From the moment, we got off the bus and entered the hotel lobby we met delegates from several states like Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming!
We attended several Youth Tour delegate educational sessions after dinner, and we had some free time to hang out with and get to know the students from the other states. This was the perfect way to end our first day in Washington, D.C.!
Good night from Virginia!
Emma, Heleny, Larissa, Diego and Irie
2019 Youth Tour: Day 4 Blog
We had breakfast this morning at 7:30 a.m. with Youth Tour delegates from Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Georgia and South Carolina. The students from Alabama and South Carolina have some cool southern accents! After breakfast, we attended the NRECA’s Congressional Simulation Class with Jennifer Jura and Ivy Prater. They took our group through the legislative process from the initial start as an idea when a U.S. Representative sponsors a bill, and it’s assigned to a committee for study, release and vote to pass the bill. Then a committee of House and Senate members work out any differences between their versions of the bill and vote for final approval. If approved, the bill will be printed and sent to the President of the United States to sign or veto the bill.
9:30 a.m. We boarded the motor coaches and headed north on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to our next stop on our itinerary, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
The Battle of Gettysburg was a turning point in the Civil War, the Union victory that ended General Robert E. Lee's second and most ambitious invasion of the North. Often referred to as the "High Water Mark of the Rebellion", Gettysburg was the Civil War's bloodiest battle and was also the inspiration for President Abraham Lincoln's immortal "Gettysburg Address".
The Gettysburg Museum of the American Civil War features one of the largest collections of Civil War relics in the world. The museum features relics of the Battle of Gettysburg and personalities who served in the Civil War, inter-active exhibits, and multi-media presentations that cover the conflict from beginning to end as well as describe the Battle of Gettysburg and its terrible aftermath.
We viewed the Cyclorama Painting by French artist Paul Philippoteaux. Mr. Philippoteaux spent months on the battlefield researching the battle with veterans, a battlefield guide and a photographer. It took Philippoteaux more than a year to complete the painting. The result is a breathtaking canvas that measures 377 feet in circumference and 42 feet high. Longer than a football field and as tall as a four-story structure, the Gettysburg Cyclorama oil painting, along with light and sound effects, immerses visitors in the fury of Pickett’s Charge during the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg. It was an amazing experience!
1:45 p.m. We toured the sacred battlefield of Gettysburg. The Battle of Gettysburg was fought July 1st thru July 3rd, 1863, by Union and Confederate forces during the American Civil War. The battle involved the largest number of casualties of the entire war and is often described as the war's turning point. Union Maj. Gen. George Meade's Army of the Potomac defeated attacks by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, halting Lee's invasion of the North.
On November 19th, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln used the dedication ceremony for the Gettysburg National Cemetery to honor the fallen Union soldiers and redefine the purpose of the war in his historic Gettysburg Address.
We visited the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial which opened in 2011. It features a large granite relief of Dr. King standing tall, about 30 feet tall, and looking out over the Tidal Basin towards the Jefferson Memorial.
They call this statue the “Stone of Hope” from Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech we studied and watched in school. It stands past two giant reliefs that look like mountains. We were told by a National Park Ranger that these represent the “Mountain of Despair” from that same line in Dr. King’s speech.
On one side of the "Stone of Hope" is the inscription "Out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope." The other side includes the inscription "I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness." This was suggested by Dr. King himself when he described how he would like to be remembered according to the National Park Ranger. They are so nice and helpful.
Surrounding the memorial was a large granite wall that includes fourteen of Dr. King's most notable quotes. The quotes are not placed in any particular order allowing visitors to read from any point. One interesting fact about the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial is the lack of any quotes from his "I Have a Dream" speech which was given on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963.
Next up, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial. Located on the famous Cherry Tree walk that borders the famous Tidal Basin, the memorial took us through a series of four sections, each representing one of FDR’s terms in office. With plenty of statues and cascading waterfalls, the site was perfect for photos.
It’s amazing to see these great tributes to such great leaders for our country. It's hard to believe what challenges each of these great leaders had to face during his time as President of the United States of America.
Walking through the FDR Memorial and reading about the issues he faced made each of us look at ourselves and what we deal with each day back in Colorado. We just found the electric lineman Lonnie was talking about.
There are so many things to see... Glad I’m (Heleny) with my new cooperative friends!
The Jefferson Memorial. Wow! You just can’t get over how big the memorials and monuments are until you stand next to one. The Jefferson Memorial is beautiful! A National Park Ranger told us it was modeled after the Pantheon in Rome.
The memorial is located at the shore of the Tidal Basin and features a 19-foot bronze statue of our third president. It was Jefferson who penned the Declaration of Independence and oversaw the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 which included Colorado. Yeah!
The memorial’s walls feature excerpts from Jefferson’s writings.
Here is an interesting fact. Did you know that Thomas Jefferson is the only president who never vetoed a bill? Now you do! I (Larissa) also learned that this is equally impressive because Thomas Jefferson served two terms in his presidency. Two terms! 1801-1809. Wow!
He also promoted the importance of democracy, freedom of religion and the separation of church and state. It’s largely due to his vision and leadership that we have such a great nation today. Here’s another interesting fact. Jefferson died a few hours before his friend John Adams, the second president of the United States, on July 4th, 1826. Which, by the way, was the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
9:00 p.m. The United States Air Force Memorial. It features three arcs rising into the sky. They mimic the contrails of the Air Force Thunderbirds signature bomb burst maneuver.
The arcs are reminiscent of the St. Louis Gateway Arch with the stainless steel. Black granite walls list the names of the Air Force recipients of the Medal of Honor. There are several large freestanding glass panels around the memorial that feature airplanes flying in the missing man formation. Everyone took turns posing for photographs with the arcs behind them. I (Emma) have a great picture that looks like I’m holding one of the arcs upright. Ha! It was dedicated on October 14, 2006 by President Bush.
After walking around the Tidal Basin, it was time to load up the buses and head National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial in Arlington, Virginia. We could go all night, but our feet and chaperones were begging for mercy! Only five more days to go… Feet don’t fail me now!
9:45 p.m. We boarded the motor coaches and headed south on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to our next stop on our itinerary, the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial in Arlington, Virginia.
On September 11, 2001, exactly 60 years after the Pentagon’s construction began, terrorists hijacked and piloted American Airlines Flight 77 into the western side of the Pentagon killing 184 people (59 crew members, passengers and 125 Department of Defense employees working inside the Pentagon). The attack on September 11, 2001 marked the first terrorist attack in Washington, D.C. since the British burned the city during the War of 1812.
The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial is designed to pay tribute to each victim featuring 184 elevated benches, Memorial Units, made of stainless steel and granite. The Memorial Units are highlighted by a pool of running water under the bench, reflecting light in the evenings onto the underside of the bench and illuminating the adjacent crushed gravel surrounding areas.
The American Airlines Flight 77 Memorial Units and the victim’s names are visible looking by looking in the direction of the plane’s approach. The Department of Defense employee’s Memorial Units and the employee’s names are visible looking by looking in the direction of the Pentagon.
The Pentagon is one of the world's largest office buildings, and you can see a difference in the color of the repaired Pentagon walls where the American Airlines Flight 77 hit on September 11, 2001. Everyone knows where they were when this event happened.
More information and pictures to follow later. Good night from Arlington, Virginia…
Emma, Heleny, Larissa, Diego and Irie
2019 Youth Tour: Day 5 Blog
7:30 a.m. Historic. The word of the day. The La Plata Electric Association Youth Tour delegates loaded the bus with their Colorado and Wyoming representatives at 7:30 a.m., and the bus headed south on George Washington Memorial Parkway to Mount Vernon, Virginia and George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
We ate breakfast at Mount Vernon and then entered the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association Theatre. The audience watched a short film on George Washington’s military career and political occupation. Everyone was excited to explore George Washington’s estate. Youth Tour delegates were everywhere.
George Washington’s Mount Vernon is beautiful! I had no idea his estate would be so beautiful. We toured Washington’s 22-room mansion and saw the rooms where he slept, ate and worked. There were lots of artifacts used by George Washington on display in his home. George and Martha Washington lived here from 1759 until General Washington's death in 1799.
The view of the Potomac River from his back deck was amazing. The grounds of the Mount Vernon Estate were beautiful! We toured more than a dozen outbuildings including the slave quarters, kitchen, stables, and greenhouse. Our Colorado Youth Tour delegates walked all over the 8,000-acre plantation!
We got lost several times in the gardens, hiked on the Forest Trail, and viewed the tomb where George and Martha Washington rest in peace. The delegates witnessed a wreath laying ceremony at the tomb.
Lunch. To go… The Colorado Rural Electric Association provided a box lunch for the Youth Tour delegates. Each student picked a box and a bottle of water. Hydrate is the key word of the day with temperature reaching the mid 90’s this afternoon. We loaded up the buses at 11:45 a.m. and counted off. 1, 2, 3… 53! All delegates were present and accounted for. Mr. B stepped on the gas and we traveled to our next appointment at Arlington National Cemetery.
Upon arriving at Arlington National Cemetery, we visited the gravesite of the John Fitzgerald Kennedy. We stood and watched the eternal flame flicker in the breeze over the gravesite of our 35th President. The flame has burned brightly for 56 years since that tragic day in Dallas. His wife Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy is laid to rest next to him. I (Irie) stood there and looked at their black headstones and wondered what the world would have been like if they were alive today.
Quick… How many Presidents are buried in Arlington National Cemetery? Well, I just told you about JFK. Give up? Two. William Howard Taft, our 27th President, was the first president to be buried here in 1930. He was also the only person to have served as the President of the United States and the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Now that is impressive!
We visited the grave of Audie Murphy. Who is Audie Murphy you might ask? Mr. Murphy was one of the most decorated American combat soldiers of World War II. He received every military combat award for valor available from the U.S. Army, as well as French and Belgian awards for heroism. At the young age of 19 Audie Murphy received the Medal of Honor for single-handedly holding off an entire company of German soldiers for an hour at the Colmar Pocket in France. A truly great American!
Did you know that more than 100 burial services are performed each week at the Arlington National Cemetery? We then took a tram to our next destination. Along the way, we saw seemingly endless rows of white headstones. I also learned that there are more than 300,000 people buried in Arlington, making it the second largest national cemetery in the United States.
When the tram stopped we got off to see the Tomb of the Unknowns. Fortunately, we were just in time to see the famed “changing of the guard,” which happens at the top and bottom of every hour, 365 days a year. It was incredible to watch in silence as the Tomb Guard sentinel paced back and forth, taking precision in every movement.
The ceremony reminded me (Diego) of the honor and respect due to the troops who guard our freedom every day.
5:30 p.m. We arrived at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and took an exclusive tour of the complex. The center is located on the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., and was named in 1964 as a memorial to President John F. Kennedy. The multi-dimensional facility produces a wide array of performances encompassing the genres of theater, dance, ballet, and orchestral, chamber, jazz, popular, and folk music; offers multi-media performances for adults and children; and we are going to attend tonight’s production of Hello, Dolly!
Yes! I (Emma) can't believe I got to see Hello, Dolly! The performance was amazing, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is incredible. Thank you, LPEA!
Good night from our nation’s capital…
Emma, Heleny, Larissa, Diego and Irie
2019 Youth Tour: Day 6 Blog
8:30 a.m. The chaperones loaded the bus and we drove to the local grocery story and everyone went into the store and purchased breakfast items, or they were supposed to…
Next on the itinerary… The Washington National Cathedral. The structure is of Neo-Gothic design closely modeled on English Gothic style of the late fourteenth century. It is both the second-largest church building in the United States, and the cathedral is the fourth-tallest structure in Washington, D.C.
Construction began on September 29, 1907, when the foundation stone was laid by President Theodore Roosevelt and completed 83 years later when the "final finial" was placed in the presence of President George H. W. Bush in 1990.
The Washington National Cathedral has hosted State funerals for four American presidents. The 34th President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1969), 38th President Gerald Ford (2007), 40th President Ronald Reagan (2004) and 41st President George H. W. Bush (2018).
We found the burial site of Helen Keller inside the Washington National Cathedral. What an amazing woman!
11:30 a.m. We visited the United States Marine Corps War Memorial, also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial. The memorial honors the Marines who have died defending the United States since 1775 and features a 32-foot-high sculpture of six Americans, five Marines and a Navy hospital corpsman, raising the American flag on top of Mount Suribachi.
The memorial was inspired by one of the most iconic photographs of World War II. The figures hold a 60-foot-high flagpole with the red, white and blue flag of the United States flying freely 24 hours a day 365 days a year. The base of the memorial is engraved are the words "In honor and in memory of the men of the United States Marine Corps who have given their lives to their country since November 10, 1775."
12:30 p.m. Next stop… The Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site. This site includes both Ford’s Theatre and the Petersen House. This is the most famous theatre in the United States, and the location where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865. A National Park Ranger gave a riveting narrative of the events surrounding Lincoln’s murder. It's still hard to believe what happened here 154 years ago. The students had a special opportunity to view the President’s box when the door was opened for a few minutes. The Youth Tour delegates commented on what it must have been like inside Ford’s Theatre the night President Lincoln was shot.
After the Ford’s Theatre, historic site tour was completed, a few Youth Tour delegates purchased Ford’s Theater Museum tickets and viewed the historical artifacts. The museum contains Booth's Derringer pistol used in the assassination, and President Lincoln's clothing from the night of his assassination. A lot of the students stated it was hard to look at the clothing knowing what happened to the man wearing this outfit. Stains of Lincoln's blood are still visible of the articles of clothing.
The house where President Lincoln died on April 15, 1865 at 7:22 a.m. A National Park Ranger provided the students with a captivating account of the chaotic events and meetings that took place in the house that evening. A few of Lincoln's Cabinet members, Generals, Congressmen, and his son Robert Todd Lincoln were in the room when President Lincoln died.
Did you know that Ford’s Theatre remained closed for more than 100 years after President Lincoln’s assassination? Ford’s Theatre officially reopened in 1968 and is currently an active theatre with several productions throughout the year.
We then explored the Center for Education and Leadership, which relates to the Petersen House, and provided details of the events that took place in the days following the assassination of President Lincoln. Students viewed artifacts from Lincoln’s funeral and newspapers announcing the heartbreaking news.
Several Youth Tour delegates enjoyed the center’s spiral staircase that descended around a tower of more than 6,800 books focused on Abraham Lincoln. The center is decorated with Lincoln’s name and reproductions of his famous signature, photographs and videos. The Youth Tour delegates enjoyed their visit to Ford’s Theatre, the Petersen House, and the Center for Education and Leadership. A must for any visitor to Washington, D.C.!
2:00 p.m. The National Archives contains the original copies of the three main foundational documents of the United States of America: The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. The National Archives also exhibits an original version of the 1297 Magna Carta confirmed by Edward I. These historical documents are on display in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom. We did not see Benjamin Franklin Gates, Nicolas Cage’s character’s name in National Treasure, in the National Archives. However, Diego did manage to steal the Declaration of Independence and almost made it outside to Constitution Avenue…
The National Archives is our nation's record keeper. Important documents and materials created are treasured and preserved for future generations. Visitors to the National Archives can also view other important American historical documents like the Articles of Confederation, the Louisiana Purchase Treaty, and the Emancipation Proclamation.
The Colorado Youth Tour delegates were inspired by their visit to the National Archives and can’t wait to meet their U.S. Congressmen and Representatives on Wednesday! Education, Training and Information. The cooperative principles. Lonnie said we would learn more about our local electric cooperative tonight, and he was right about the cooperative education we received! The Colorado Youth Tour delegates walked down the street to the Hyatt Regency at Crystal City to participate in the National Youth Tour Conference sponsored by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
There are more than 1,900 teenagers, a new Youth Tour attendance record, from more than 48 states participating in the 2019 Youth Tour. We were all encouraged to cheer for our state and make a lot of noise (We Will Rock D.C! at appropriate times, of course). We made sure everyone knew who and where the Colorado delegation was seated by leading our group. La Plata Electric Association, Inc. would be proud!
You should have heard all our delegates shout! Colorado made a lot of noise when they introduced Meleah Yates, a delegate from Intermountain REA in Sedalia, who will represent Colorado on the NRECA Youth Leadership Council. Meleah will return to Washington, D.C. in July for training on public speaking and leadership at the NRECA Headquarters, and she will travel to New Orleans, Louisiana in 2020 to represent Colorado at the NRECA Annual Meeting. Way to go, Meleah!
It was an interesting and inspiring evening. We heard from NRECA CEO Jim Matheson, a former seven-term Utah congressman, who told us about NRECA’s efforts to represent America’s 900 local electric cooperatives. Matheson told us to take advantage of this exclusive learning opportunity and talk to our elected officials, make new friends and have fun while visiting Washington D.C.
We also learned about the early days of public power and rural electrification. Did you know that only ten percent of the United States had electricity in 1935? At the time electricity was customary in cities but largely unavailable in rural places. On May 11, 1935, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued Executive Order 7037, which created the Rural Electrification Administration. In 1936, the Congress passed Roosevelt's Rural Electrification Act. LPEA was officially incorporated on August 16, 1939. Wow! LPEA has come a long way in 80 years!
The highlight of the evening was a speech by wheelchair athlete Mike Schlappi. The speech was inspiring, sad, funny, educational and entertaining all at once. Did you know that people have 11 negative thoughts per every positive thought? Most people don’t realize what they have until it’s gone. Mike was a normal teenager just like all of us when he was accidentally shot by his best friend.
Mike Schlappi told us how he overcame the emotional hurt of his injury, and how he’s went on to live an exciting and full life despite his physical injury. How you might ask? Mike Schlappi followed his dream and passion for basketball. Basketball? That’s right! Mike Schlappi won 2 Paralympics Gold Medals (1988 Seoul & 1992 Barcelona) and 2 Bronze Medals (1996 Atlanta & 2000 Sydney).
Mike Schlappi’s motto “If you can’t stand up, stand out” is the greatest, and everyone, disabled or not, can be inspired by his personal story. The speakers were great tonight! The 2019 Youth Tour delegates are enjoying every moment here in Washington, D.C.
Good night from Arlington, Virginia…
Emma, Heleny, Larissa, Diego and Irie
2019 Youth Tour: Day 7 Blog
7:30 a.m. We met in the lobby of our hotel, the Hilton Chrystal City, and counted-off 1, 2, 3… 53! All Youth Tour delegates from Colorado and Wyoming are present and accounted for. Not to mention our seven chaperones who are starting to slow down. I (Heleny) think they need their coffee. Ha!
We set off on our march across Crystal City, Virginia and walked several blocks to the closest Washington, D.C., Metro System at Pentagon City and boarded the Yellow Line to L’Enfant Plaza Station.
9:00 a.m. The Library of Congress. I (Heleny) can’t' believe how elaborate and beautiful the Library of Congress is inside. You wouldn't guess that from outside. The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world and holds the largest number of books. How many? Millions of books, manuscripts, maps, photographs and recordings.
No, the Book of Secrets is not here as depicted in National Treasure 2. Sorry Lonnie Tucker! We did see the Gutenberg Bible. Wow! One of only four in existence. Printed in 1454! Now that's old.
The Thomas Jefferson's Library exhibit on the second floor was amazing. Over 2,000 of his personal books are available to view.
We visited the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is the highest judicial body in the United States of America. It consists of the Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices, each appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Quick, can you name our Chief Justice? John G. Roberts, Jr. Don’t feel bad, we didn't know either, but now we both know!
10:00 a.m. The Youth Tour chaperones dropped us off at the Red Castle on the National Mall, handed us $20 for lunch, gave us a map of Washington, D.C. and told us to be back at 2:30 p.m. What??? Everyone broke into small groups and decided which museums they wanted to visit. See you soon. We are off and running!
We visited the National Air and Space Museum. It holds the largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft in the world. The museum contains the Wright Flyer, the airplane that made history with the first recorder flight on December 17, 1903 near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Charles Lindberg’s Spirit of St. Louis is also on display in the main gallery above an Apollo lunar module.
The National Air and Space Museum also contains the Bell X-1, piloted by Charles E. "Chuck" Yeager, was the first plane to break the sound barrier with a speed of 700 miles per hour on October 14, 1947. The historic Friendship 7 capsule piloted by John H. Glenn Jr. became the first American to orbit the Earth three times on February 20, 1962. The Apollo 11 Command Module, "Columbia," used by Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and Michael Collins to safely return to earth after their historic mission to the moon in July 1969.
Did you know that the Smithsonian is made up of nineteen different museums? Nineteen! Wow. We went to the National Museum of Natural History to see The Hope Diamond. 45.52 carats if you were curious. Did you know that The Hope Diamond was originally 112 carats before King Louis XIV of France had it cut down for Marie Antoinette. There was so much to see and do at those museums that we just couldn’t squeeze everything into several hours. Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to go back later this week.
We crossed 15th Street and walked across the National Mall to the Washington Monument. The monument was built to commemorate the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army and the first President of the United States, George Washington.
The Washington Monument is made of three types of stone. Marble, granite, and bluestone gneiss were used in the construction that took 40 years to create the world's tallest obelisk, towering over the Washington, D.C. skyline at 555 feet. The white exterior of the Washington Monument is highlighted by the red, white and blue of fifty American flags that surround the monument.
3:00 p.m. We visited and toured the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The museum is the United States' official memorial to the Holocaust and contains documentation, study, and interpretation of Holocaust history.
It’s dedicated to helping leaders and citizens of the world learn about the Holocaust, remember the survivors and victims, confront hatred, prevent genocide, promote human dignity, and strengthen democracy.
The museum contains three floors providing a narrative history of the Holocaust and features historical artifacts, photographs, and film footage. The Holocaust Museum also features personal objects and the stories of individuals who lived and survived the Holocaust.
We witnessed a group of Holocaust survivors exploring the museum with their families and sharing their personal stories of survival. One of the most emotional experiences we have ever witnessed. I (Diego) would highly recommend the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to everyone visiting Washington, D.C.
Good night from our nation’s capital…
Emma, Heleny, Larissa, Diego and Irie
2019 Youth Tour: Day 8 Blog
Well, it was our last full day in Washington D.C. We had breakfast with Youth Tour delegates from Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana and Tennessee. It was interesting to hear how they became Youth Tour delegates to represent their electric cooperatives and individual states. Lonnie was right. Every cooperative’s Youth Tour program is different. We are glad La Plata Electric Association had us write about the cooperative principles and what they mean to us. The trip to Washington, D.C. has been educational, and we fully understand the benefits of belonging to a cooperative now.
After breakfast, we got dressed in our best outfits for our visit to Capitol Hill, so we could meet our United States Senators and Representatives from Colorado. We looked very professional and everyone was excited for the opportunity to meet our elected officials representing us in Washington, D.C. We had our Colorado delegate team meeting with our chaperones and Liz went over some last-minute Metro instructions about our exit location at Capitol Hill. Twenty minutes later we exited the Metro and walked to the Library of Congress.
We walked around the U.S. Capitol and entered the Capitol Visitor Center located across the street from the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress. The Capitol Visitor Center took eight years to build and cost more than $625 million. It opened to the public on December 2, 2008 and more than 9,500 individuals visit the U.S. Capitol each day per our tour guide, Kyle Green, Staff Assistant to U.S. Senator Cory Gardner from Colorado.
Thanks to Kyle for an incredible tour. We learned so many new things today about Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Capitol. Did you know that President George Washington laid the cornerstone in 1793? Now you do! Check out the picture. The U.S. Capitol was also burned in 1814 by British troops. The Statue of Freedom was placed on top of the cast iron dome in 1863. Some 288 feet above the ground. We wish we could have spent more time in the U.S. Capitol!
We went to the Russell Senate Office Building to meet with U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner who represent Colorado. They were great and spent about an hour talking to our group about politics and the different levels of leadership.
Senator Bennet answered our questions about education and challenged us to go back to Colorado and make a difference this year as seniors in high school.
Senator Gardner answered our questions about renewable energy and how Colorado is leading the nation in our effort to require all electric utilities to produce their energy from one hundred percent renewable sources by 2035 through Senate Bill18-064.
Senator Bennet talked to us about his role as a U.S. Congressman and how he works for us. He talked about the issues he is currently working on with both the Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Congressman Bennet answered several questions from our Youth Tour delegates and then posed with us for a few pictures. We were impressed with his answers and his concern for the people of Colorado. Thanks, Congressman Bennet and Gardner for taking the time to meet with us!
We (Diego and Irie) met U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the Cannon House Office Building.
2019 LPEA Youth Tour delegates Irie Sentner and Diego Salinas got a rare opportunity to take selfies with Rep. Ocasio-Cortez outside her office. The picture was featured in an article "36 Hours with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez" on Vogue.com.
She is my (Irie) personal HERO! AOC, as her friends call her, was sworn in on January 3rd, 2019 by House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi. Representative Ocasio-Cortez represents New York's 14th congressional district. This was an incredible moment. One I (Diego) will never forget. Thanks, La Plata Electric Association for the opportunity of a lifetime!
The Youth Tour delegates also met with Congressman Scott Tipton who represents Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. This district covers most of the rural Western Slope in Colorado and includes the cities of Alamosa, Durango, Grand Junction and Pueblo. Congressman Tipton was great! He spent about half an hour talking to us about agriculture, education, energy and the environment.
The Colorado Youth Tour delegates went to the Longworth House Office Building to meet with U.S. Representative Jason Crow who represents Colorado’s 6th District. This district covers the north-central part of Colorado and encompasses the eastern suburbs of Denver including Aurora, Centennial, Littleton and Thornton.
Representative Crow was great! He spent about half an hour talking to us about the security of the United States and how he is on the Committee of Armed Services, which is responsible for the funding and oversight of the Department of Defense, the United States Armed Forces and portions of the Department of Energy.
We learned something new today. The Longworth House Office Building is the second of three buildings (Cannon, Longworth and Rayburn) built for the United States House of Representatives. The neo-classical building is simply beautiful! It reminds me of the Roman Pantheon with its ionic marble columns. The same style that is found in the Jefferson Memorial.
After a long afternoon on Capitol Hill, we returned to the hotel around 5:30 p.m. We have about an hour to rest and change clothes before tonight’s NRECA All-States Dinner and Dance. More than 1,900 Youth Tour delegates packed the Newseum for the grand finale! Next stop… The Newseum. The world’s most interactive museum.
The building is amazing. Each of the 6 floors have numerous historical artifacts, unique exhibits, and a collection of today’s front pages from both the United States and the world’s leading newspapers. That was awesome. It’s amazing how we are portrayed around the world.
Like taking pictures? Check out the Newseum's Pulitzer Prize exhibit on Level 1. They showed every single photo that won the Pulitzer since the award was first created. Don't forget to check out the two or three hidden booths that are kind of around the corner in the photo section. There, you can select photos on a monitor and hear and see the stories behind them. The Newseum has something new around every corner. Really cool!
Like the Newseum TV Studio, Journalist’s Memorial, and the Berlin Wall. The Newseum TV Studio was a blast! We got to see firsthand what it's like to work for a TV network. Ok, maybe not a real network, but we were placed in front of the green screen and provided the sports report for Washington, D.C. Looks like the Colorado Rockies are going to win another ballgame today. Now for an update, we have Lonnie Tucker on location at the U.S. Capitol. Lonnie, can you hear us? Can you hear me now?
The Berlin Wall exhibit was fascinating. An actual section of the Berlin Wall and watchtower is on display. The video of Tom Brokaw reporting directly from Berlin was crazy! A must see! It's hard to believe a city the size of Berlin was divided into sections and one part was controlled by the Soviet Union, and the other part by the United States. It was interesting to see the artwork and personal messages written on the sections of the Berlin Wall.
The 9/11 Gallery. The 9/11 Gallery contains the mangled communications tower that was on top of the World Trade Center. The gallery also includes a tribute to photojournalist William Biggart, who died covering the attacks, and some of his personal belongings and final photographs from that day are on display. Also featured are front pages from around the globe about the attacks and first-person accounts from reporters and photographers who covered the story.
Level 6. A must for every visitor to Washington, D.C. Take the glass elevator to Level 6. How many Youth Tour delegates can squeeze into an elevator? Don’t ask! Pennsylvania Terrace, overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue, offers an incredible view of the U.S. Capitol Building.
Thanks to the NRECA for providing an incredible selection of food, drinks and desserts!
There was several DJ’s playing a wide variety of music and the dance floor was packed. It was amazing! Not interested in dancing the night away? The NRECA had a conference room available for students looking for a quieter environment. Delegates had the opportunity to just hang out together in the lobby and talk for several hours.
Good night from Arlington, Virginia…
Emma, Heleny, Larissa, Diego and Irie
2019 Youth Tour: Day 9 Blog
3:30 a.m. Good morning from Washington, D.C! This is your last Youth Tour wake-up call. Wow! We just went to sleep. The Youth Tour chaperones on our trip have been great. Thanks to Liz Fiddes, Colorado Rural Electric Association; Robin Feezer, Wyoming Rural Electric Association; David Reher, Federated Rural Electric Insurance Exchange, Alicen and Clint Rapier, Empire Electric Association; Missy Biegler, Powder River Energy Cooperative; and Sarah Schaefer from Mountainview Electric Association. They made this the trip of a lifetime.
We can’t believe it’s over! Although we’re exhausted, our time in Washington, D.C. went by before we knew it. We’ve created so many memories, and we know we will never forget them.
4 a.m. We loaded our baggage onto the buses and said goodbye to our hotel, the Hilton Chrystal City in Arlington, Virginia. What an incredible hotel and home for six nights! We got on the bus and Liz counted the delegates for the third time this morning. 1, 2, 3… 53! All delegates present and accounted for. Let’s roll, Colorado and Wyoming! Within seconds, Mr. B, our driver pulled out of the hotel and headed north on the George Washington Memorial Parkway.
We arrived at the Dulles International Airport and we lined-up at the Southwest Airlines counter. Everyone checked their bags and received their boarding pass for the flight to Denver. Yes!
Then we went around the corner and saw the number of people lined-up at the TSA security check point. It took about an hour for everyone to go through the TSA inspection and make it to our Southwest Airlines gate.
This left us with about 20 minutes to get and eat breakfast before boarding our plane.
6:10 a.m. Southwest Airlines Flight #1294 pulled-off the runway and headed west as just about every Colorado Youth Tour delegate and chaperone fell asleep.
Our plane traveled west over a cloud covered nation. The sunrise created a beautiful glow as it highlighted the plane’s engine and wing tip. Not a lot of solar energy production will be happening today with these clouds.
We landed at 7:50 a.m. at the Denver International Airport in Colorado. This was the trip of a lifetime! We still can’t believe we had the opportunity to go to Washington, D.C. for a week, and see and experience so many wonderful things for writing an essay about cooperative principles. Thank you, La Plata Electric Association!
We really appreciate all the work Liz, Alicen, Missy, Robin, Sarah, Clint and David put into making the 2019 Youth Tour the best trip ever!
Hey Colorado! Hey Lonnie! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. We loaded up the Yukon and hit the road. We talked about everything we saw while in Washington, D.C. WOW! We still can't believe we spent a week in our nation’s capital!
Time for one more picture with our new friends. Ok maybe a few more. Maybe a few more with this person. Now I need a picture with that one and this one... Just one more picture!
Okay. Maybe one more picture of our 2019 Youth Tour name badges. They have been with us every step of the way for the last nine days and eight nights. From Durango to Denver to Washington, D.C. Every monument and museum. The White House and U.S. Capitol. Not to mention, just about every sidewalk in the D.C. area and stairs, stairs, stairs and more stairs. Did I mention stairs!
Our name badges are covered with Youth Tour state pins that we traded with the other delegates during the Youth Tour Conference. Let’s see if you can find the Alaska pin? Only a few people found this one!
We will forever be grateful to our electric cooperative, La Plata Electric Association, for giving us this incredible opportunity. Thank you to the La Plata Electric Association Board of Directors, General Manager and CEO Mike Dreyspring, Lonnie Tucker and the 36,000 La Plata Electric Association members.
We now know and truly understand what a cooperative is all about. We hope to one day become cooperative member/owners and share in this amazing principle. A special “Thank You” goes out to Lonnie Tucker for making our summer one of the best summers ever! Thanks to Liz Fiddes and everyone at the Colorado Rural Electric Association for making this trip to Washington, D.C. possible. It was the trip of a lifetime! Thank you!
Your 2019 Youth Tour Delegates,
Emma, Heleny, Larissa, Diego and Irie