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Youth Tour


CHELCO has selected six area high school juniors to participate in the 2016 Youth Tour in Washington, D.C.

Selected for the June trip were Andi VonHilsheimer, Niceville High School; Logan Rickmon, Baker High School; and Ryan Lechner and Martha Freeman, Freeport High School.  Sarah Wright from South Walton High School and Jodie Welch from Baker High School will serve as alternates. The winners were announced Wednesday evening at a banquet at Freeport High School.

 “We always have amazing students selected to participate in CHELCO’s Youth Tour program. This year was no exception. It is the highlight of my year to get to know the students. The talent in the young people of our community will blow you away,” said Youth Tour Coordinator Bonnie Whitfield.

                The first part of the Youth Tour experience involved a two-day trip to Tallahassee for 17 outstanding students from across CHELCO’s service territory. The students were selected by their schools.  They attended and participated in a mock trial and Senate hearing, as well as touring the capitol building. They also learned about electric cooperatives.

After the Tallahassee trip, the same students participated in a local competition where judges interviewed them prior to selecting the four students and alternates. The Washington, D.C., Youth Tour is organized by the National Rural Electric Cooperatives Association. 

Once in Washington, D.C., students will join about 1,500 other Youth Tour representatives from across the country and spend one week learning about government, history and the role of cooperatives. 

CHELCO is a not-for-profit electric distribution cooperative serving more than 48,000 members in Walton, Okaloosa, Holmes and Santa Rosa counties.


2016 Youth Tour winners with CHELCO representatives from left to right, CHELCO CEO Steve Rhodes, Alternate Sarah Wright, South Walton High School; Winner Andi VonHilsheimer, Niceville High School; Winner Ryan Lechner, Freeport High School; Winner Logan Rickmon, Baker High School; Winner Martha Freeman, Freeport High School; Alternate Jodie Welch, Baker High School and CHELCO Youth Tour Coordinator Bonnie Whitfield. 





Dear Chelco,  

Thank you so much for sponsoring my trip to Washington D.C. The trip is one that I will undoubtedly remember for a lifetime. From the people to the sites, this was an all-around perfect experience. Some of the sites that we went to will forever be engraved in my memory, such as the Arlington National Cemetery and the National Holocaust Museum. This trip also taught me what a co-op is and how without CHELCO providing power to my home, life could be a real struggle.

I must also add that you have chosen the right youth tour program director, Mrs. Bonnie Whitfield. She took excellent care of us in Tallahassee and the days leading up to the D.C. trip. Once again, I would like to express my appreciation and gratitude for providing so many lifetime memories.


Nick Wilkinson.

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