An essay assignment won McMinnville resident MaKayla Stubblefield a trip to Washington, D.C.
Stubblefield, a rising senior at Warren County High School, was among 1,700 future leaders who traveled to Washington for the annual Electric Cooperative Youth Tour. The tour took place June 12-18.
“It was the experience of a lifetime,” said Stubblefield, who was making her first trip to D.C. “I got to meet people from all 50 states and see some of our nation’s landmarks. I like government and politics anyway so this trip was really neat. My favorite part was visiting The Smithsonian and seeing dresses worn by first ladies. The VIP tour of the Capitol and meeting some of our representatives was exciting too.”
Stubblefield got to experience the week-long tour thanks to an essay. Students were to write about how electric cooperatives continue improving lives in their service areas through special community programs.
Stubblefield wrote the winning essay in Warren County.
She then advanced to regional competition and won there too. That allowed her essay to advance to state competition, although she wasn’t victorious at that level.
Stubblefield’s story centered around an evil raindrop which created an ice storm that caused significant damage to a town. In the face of ice storm destruction, utility workers banded together to repair power lines and return the town to its former glory.
“The raindrop starts as a bad guy, but once he sees the spirit of cooperation shown by all the workers he turns into a good guy,” said Stubblefield.
Other essay winners included Ben Boyd of Spencer, Nicklas Patterson of Smithville, and Casey Sain of Sparta. They were all rewarded with spots on the D.C. tour. Susan Measles, Van Buren County High School English teacher, was also awarded a spot to recognize her support of the co-op’s youth programs.
This year’s Washington Youth Tour marked the 50th anniversary of Tennessee’s participation in the program.
“The Youth Tour is one of the most rewarding things I do all year,” said Angel Wood, Caney Fork communications coordinator who served as a chaperone. “These students not only learn about our nation and their electric cooperative, but they also learn leadership skills that will benefit them in college and beyond.”
Students visited the White House and memorials to past presidents, as well as monuments honoring the sacrifices of veterans of World War II and the Vietnam and Korean wars. Other stops included The Smithsonian, George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and Arlington National Cemetery, where the group laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
Youth Tour delegates were welcomed to the U.S. Capitol by Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker. Rep. Scott DesJarlais spent some time with his constituents outside the Capitol and posed for photos.
“Our communities and our co-ops need strong leadership, and the Washington Youth Tour is one way we can help prepare students for the roles they may one day fill,” said Bill Rogers, Caney Fork general manager. “The tour and similar educational opportunities made possible by Caney Fork Electric Cooperative are designed to help students understand what it takes to be leaders in their communities and why leadership is so important.”