South Central Power students represent Ohio in D.C. as part of Washington Youth Tour - South Central Power

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South Central Power students represent Ohio in D.C. as part of Washington Youth Tour

September 1, 2022

In June, three children of South Central Power Company members participated in the Washington Youth Tour, a life-changing trip that brings more than a thousand high school juniors and seniors to Washington, D.C., from all across America. Paige Arbaugh of Jewett, Grace O’Grady of Pickerington, and Josie Speakman of Stoutsville joined 38 other students from across Ohio for the weeklong trip. The Youth Tour has been an electric cooperative tradition for more than 50 years and includes visits to the U.S. Capitol and other points of interest.

As part of their tour of the nation’s capital, students met with members of their congressional delegation, visited Arlington National Cemetery, attended a performance at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and much more.

O’Grady not only represented South Central Power during Youth Tour, she was selected by her Ohio peers as the state’s only representative in the Youth Leadership Council, which provided her with a return trip to D.C. in July.

Ready to meet your 2022 Youth Tour participants?

Paige Arbaugh

“I applied for Youth Tour because I saw it as an opportunity to meet lots of new people and learn about the impact power co-ops have on our lives,” says Arbaugh, a rising senior at Jefferson County Christian School. “The trip was an amazing experience, from seeing all the monuments and museums to attending the large group events. I met a lot of really great people, who are now friends, and I also really enjoyed going to the Kennedy Center to see Jersey Boys.”

Not only did Arbaugh get to see and enjoy the nation’s capital, she also learned more about the cooperative business model. “I became aware of all the ways co-ops on the local and national level are involved in innovations globally and in rural America. I also learned of all the opportunities that are out there through power cooperatives for young people who want to get involved in politics, providing power, or just helping to improve America,” she says.

Josie Speakman

“I would say the Washington Youth Tour was the greatest experience of my young adult life,” says Speakman, a rising senior at Amanda-Clearcreek High School who serves as vice president of the student body and is a member of the marching band, among other activities.

Speakman, who is interested in an eventual career in politics, enjoyed seeing the sights in Washington but
particularly the chance to have an up-close experience with the capital itself as well as legislators and staffers.

“Meeting with legislators in the Cannon Office building was the best part of the whole week. Getting to be in my dream workplace and meet with some of the people I hope to call my peers one day is indescribable. The excitement that I felt for my future and the future of young people like me was extraordinary. Getting to advocate for South Central Power and rural communities is so important and to have been part of that is a huge honor.”

Grace O’Grady

“Even if a student went on their eighth grade trip to D.C., they should consider applying for Washington Youth Tour — you get to see a totally different side of D.C.,” says O’Grady, who has aspired to be a politician ever since she was six years old.

“The meeting with Senator Brown’s staff was great, and I had a wonderful time just walking around with the group and getting to experience D.C. and Capitol Hill as a young adult. I met students from Texas, Mississippi, and South Dakota in addition to the students from across Ohio.”

O’Grady, who is a rising senior at Pickerington High School Central, is an accomplished public speaker who is active in debate, Model U.N., Key Club, and a number of other school and community activities. She was also honored to be selected by her Ohio peers to represent the state at the Youth Leadership Council, which comprises students from each state participating in the Youth Tour.

“This was my third trip to D.C., and I have a great appreciation for the work that goes on every day from the White House to Capitol Hill. My experience from the Youth Tour will be invaluable as I move in to my senior year and beyond,” O’Grady says.

Plan now for the 2023 Youth Tour

Do you know a high school junior who would benefit from participating in a leadership experience in Washington, D.C.? Plan now to apply for the 2023 Youth Tour. For complete
program details, visit: southcentralpower.com/community/youth-tour/

From the September 2022 issue of Ohio Cooperative Living.