Walker Gray of Minden and Layton Bays of Homer have been selected to as winners of the 2021 Rural Electric Youth Tour contest.
The annual contest was open to any student who lives in a home or attends a school which receives power from Claiborne Electric. To enter, students submitted a letter to an elected official about a topic important to them.
In most years, winners travel to Washington, D.C., where they join students from across the country for the Youth Tour. They travel with teen delegates selected from other electric cooperatives in Louisiana. While in Washington, D.C., the students tour the city’s landmarks and historical sites, learn more about electric cooperatives, attend social functions, and receive leadership training.
Due to COVID-19, the 2021 Youth Tour will not take place. Gray and Bays will each receive a $2,000 college scholarship in lieu of the trip.
The Washington Youth Tour was inspired in 1957 by Senator and future President Lyndon B. Johnson. During his address to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) that year, he urged attendees to send young people to the nation’s capital so they could see first-hand how the government works. The following summer, cooperatives did just that, and the Rural Electric Youth Tour was born.
In 1959, 130 students attended the tour. NRECA began to coordinate joint activities among the states in 1964. Today, more than 1,500 students attend the conference each year and more than 50,000 students have participated in the tour.
Gray’s essay addressed the issue of feral hogs, including their impact on the state’s agricultural economy and the effect they have on other wildlife populations. Bays’ essay discussed the fairness of Light Detection and Ranging systems in municipal policing, and the impact of this system in a local economy.