Heather Siegel travels to
by Brenda Steffens
Director of Communications
One-hundred and eight high school students participated in Missouri’s 56th annual Missouri Electric Youth Tour Friday, June 14 to Thursday, June 20 in Washington, D.C. Local delegates were Abby Backes, Tipton; Crystal Gutierrez, Tipton; Alexa Shewmaker, California; and Heather Siegel, Stover. They were sponsored by Co-Mo Electric Cooperative.
The seven-day tour provides an action-filled week for high school students, offering them opportunities to learn firsthand what it is like to be involved in politics, leadership positions, community service, and today’s pressing issues.
Heather Siegel, a senior a Stover High School, recently returned from this trip. She competed in the Missouri Electric Youth writing contest and then answered questions pertaining to Co-Mo Electric Cooperative. She won the contest and was awarded this trip. I recently sent her a list of questions about her trip.
What dates were you in Washington, D.C.?
Through Co-Mo Electric Cooperative, I was able to attend Youth Tour 2019. I stayed in Columbia, Mo. for the opening banquet and orientation Friday, June 14 and then flew to Washington, D.C. Saturday, June 15 and returned Thursday, June 20.
How many students were on your trip? How many adults?
From Missouri, there were 108 students and 13 adult chaperones. Throughout the whole Youth Tour Across America, there were more than 1,700 students.
What did you do each day?
Our days were very packed. It was 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 15 by the time we got to Washington, D.C. but we still went out to the Air Force, FDR, MLK, and Jefferson memorials before returning to the hotel. Sunday started the tour with Iwo Jima, World War II, Vietnam, Korea, and Lincoln memorials. Following that we were given our choice in a small group. My group went to the American history, natural science, air and space museums, and the National Archives. That evening, Missouri delegates took a cruise on the Potomac River.
Monday, June 17, we visited Arlington National Cemetery and Ford’s Theater. There was also an all-states conference with guest speakers that night.
Tuesday, June 18, we were lucky enough to tour inside the East Wing of the White House and visited George Washington’s home on Mount Vernon. We were supposed to go to a baseball game that night but it ended up getting rained out, so we packed into a local arcade instead.
Wednesday, June 19, we met with each of Missouri’s representatives after we were divided up by district. My group was able to meet with Vicky Hartzler and have her and her interns give us a little tour of the Capitol. That evening, there was an all-states dinner where we said goodbye to all the new friends we made.
Thursday, June 20, we traveled home.
What was your favorite part of the trip?
There were several favorite pieces and moments of the trip. Mount Vernon was probably my favorite place because of how historic the average person felt. Walking through the gardens, home, and along the shore felt as if you were in the time period. It was very well put together.
My favorite moment would have to be when all the states at the conference rose to sing the national anthem together. I’m sure not all of us were amazing singers but together it was really moving and beautiful to hear. It made us all feel strong.
Would you encourage other students to participate in this? Why or why not?
I would definitely encourage other students to participate in this trip when the opportunity arises. Washington, D.C. is a beautiful place with so many amazing sights and is a great place to make new friends with common goals.
A bigger reason for me, personally, was how much this trip altered my view of America. In today’s world, it is easy to see the “bad” image the news and media have put on America with overwhelming politics and issues that seem ridiculous to discuss or on the opposite, are large and in need of change. Some can start to lose faith in what America has “come to” and it’s easy to see why.
Yet, when I was able to visit Washington, D.C. and go into it worried it may be all politics and unimpressive busy places, I found out my view on it was wrong. I had never felt so proud of America as I did in Washington, D.C., seeing the names on the monuments and memorials, the flowers and wreaths left in memory, the flags rising high, and the silence around the memorials made me feel proud of the many battles our country has been through, holding strong and striving.
We have had a lot of loss, but still we remain strong despite the tragedies of men and women who sacrificed themselves for the country.
Seeing them still getting recognition and sympathy no matter how far back in the past, really is a proud moment to be an American and gives Washington, D.C. a better reputation.
Had you been to Washington, D.C. before? Do you want to go back?
I would definitely love to go back to Washington, D.C. someday, if not for myself then my future kids or grandkids to see and feel what I did appreciating our freedom and country. I am very thankful the Youth Tour has this opportunity for young people because I am sure it was as eye-opening for me as it was to so many other students.
“We know Heather Siegel represented our school well. We are proud she was able to participate in this incredible trip,” said Morgan County R-I Communications Director Brenda Steffens.