There was a moment while Claire Aplin was in Washington D.C., for the NRECA Youth Tour that she had to take a step back and soak in all she was experiencing.
Along with Victoria Zinn, Aplin was given an all-expenses-paid trip by Wiregrass Electric Cooperative (WEC) to visit the nation’s capital. She said it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“There were a few moments when I had to take a step back and admire my surroundings because I was so in awe of all the historic monuments that I was getting to see,” Aplin says. “Knowing what they all stand for really just took my breath away.”
Aplin is a senior at Ashford High School, and Zinn is a senior at Samson High School. Both students attended the Montgomery Youth Tour last March along with 10 other local high school juniors in the Wiregrass region. Aplin and Zinn were then selected to attend the Washington, D.C., Youth Tour with students representing other electric cooperatives from across the country.
“This trip is such a special experience for the students,” says WEC Manager of Communication and Public Relations Jennifer Ward. “They learn about this great nation, and it helps shape them into future leaders for our area. Our board of trustees recently approved for our cooperative to send three students next year, and we are so grateful to them for that. The more students who can attend, the better.”
While in Washington the students visited historic monuments, museums, the White House, and the United States Capitol to learn more about U.S. history and the role electric cooperatives played in that history.
“The trip was so much fun,” Zinn said. “I actually learned more than I thought I would. We got to tour the Capitol building at night and see representatives vote, which was really interesting. It was really crazy to see all of it.”
Aplin enjoyed getting to visit Arlington National Cemetery.
“Once you get there, it takes your breath away when you see it,” she says. “We also got to go to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and see a wreath-laying ceremony. It was awesome to see.”
The Holocaust Museum was Zinn’s favorite.
“It was really powerful, and it was so devastating,” Zinn says. “Walking in and seeing the room full of shoes is what stood out to me most. I am an emotional person and I really wanted to cry, but I didn’t.”
Aplin was appreciative that WEC provided an experience she’ll never forget.
“This trip helped me grow so much,” she says. “I am so grateful that Wiregrass Electric chose me to represent them. Not only did I get to tour Montgomery and Washington, but also I got to meet so many new people and develop lifelong relationships.”
Zinn says any student who is considering applying should definitely do it.
“I would tell everyone to take the opportunity to go on this trip,” she says. “Even if you feel like you won’t be selected, you should still try. It is a life-changing experience, and I would go again in a heartbeat.”