Youth Tour 2016: Taking our big picture, seeing the bigger picture

Katie Ryan-Anderson is the manager of member communications for Dakota Valley and Northern Plains Electric Cooperatives in North Dakota. As a chaperone for the 2016 Youth Tour, in which high school students get to tour Washington, D.C. and learn about how rural electric cooperatives fight for important issues, she is sharing the students’ experiences through social media.

Ryan-Anderson volunteered to share her stories here on Basin Electric: Live Wire.

You can also watch the group’s progress via Facebook and Twitter:
Twitter: @DakValElectric
Twitter: @NplainsElectric

Also, add Northern Plains Electric on Snapchat: nplainelectric

Watch #ytdc for posts from co-ops across the nation.

-Editor’s note

Youth Tour 2016

North Dakota Youth Tour students visiting the White House.

Violinists, singers, poetry slammers and tractor driving champions – those are the youngsters representing you in Washington D.C. this week.

The national Rural Electric Cooperative Youth Tour began this weekend. Fifteen youngsters from Flasher to Lankin, ND, departed for Washington D.C. at 9 a.m. June 11. They join 1,600 young leaders from across the country.

Youth Tour 2016

Slope Electric Cooperative’s Riley Abrahamson visiting the Pentagon Memorial to remember the September 11, 2001, terror attacks during Youth Tour 2016.

The Rural Electric Cooperative Youth Tour is a week-long adventure for high school students. They learn about history, leadership, governance and how to make new friends. They visit museums and memorials. They shake hands with legislators. They make friends who will one day be their best men and maids of honor. Most importantly, they take their big picture, and see it within the context of the bigger picture.

Like this teenager from an itty bitty southern town.

“There I was with the Lincoln Memorial to my back, standing on the spot where Martin Luther King gave his powerful speech and staring at a symbol honoring a man who sparked the birth of this great nation. They each had a picture in mind for this country. They chose to look beyond their own personal big pictures and focus on the bigger picture. … They became a part of the next greatest thing.”

Colin Craig, a former Youth Tour participant, recognized what our country’s leaders had to give up, in order to give us the opportunities we have today. Lincoln, King, Washington and veterans in general — they had their own big pictures, Craig said. But they sacrificed for bigger picture – the next greatest thing. Watch the video.

“The Washington Youth Tour has initiated my part in the bigger picture. I am no longer a small town kid focused on small town dreams,” Craig said last year, to an audience of 6,500 co-op leaders.

Today, our small-town violinist, singers, poetry slammers, linguists and slam dunkers will embark on their first Youth Tour experience. They will take the lessons they’ve learned in rural America, and apply them to the nation and the world. They’ll still slam dunks and slam poems, but the grand slam is their new perspective.

After this experience, they’ll be better able to compromise, empathize and see issues from another’s point of view.

Today, they are violinist and singers. But tomorrow, they are part of the next greatest thing.

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