2023 NREA Youth Tour!!

Mackenzie Thomas, Sports and Feature Editor

Marion Center High School is proud to offer its students the opportunity to participate in the annual PREA Youth Tour, an educational trip to Washington, D.C. This exceptional program exposes students to historic sites and landmarks while teaching them about the essential role that electric cooperatives play in their community. The PREA Youth Tour is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that promises to open up doors to many opportunities for students down the road.

The PREA Youth Tour is a week-long trip to the nation’s capital for high school students from across the United States. The program is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association (PREA), whose mission is to support and educate the communities it serves. Each year, PREA provides more than 35 high school students from across Pennsylvania with the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., to learn about electric cooperatives and how they can make a difference in their communities.

The PREA Youth Tour is not just another sightseeing trip. It is an educational journey that provides students with the opportunity to learn about government, history, and leadership. Throughout the week, students are exposed to top government officials, attend sessions about leadership, and visit national landmarks – such as the Washington Monument, the U.S. Capitol, Arlington National Cemetery, and the Pentagon Memorial. Through this experience, students gain a unique perspective on government and learn how to be engaged citizens in their communities.

“Going into the trip, I had no idea what to expect and I was nervous that I wouldn’t have fin because none of my friends were going, but I quickly came to realize that was not the case. I made not many new friends and had the absolute time of my life. The boat cruise was so much fun.” Mackenzie Thomas said.

The opportunity to participate in the PREA Youth Tour is an outstanding opportunity for Marion Center High School students. Not only does it offer students an appreciation for our nation’s history, but it also teaches them about the critical role electric cooperatives play in serving their local communities. Students meet other students from across the country, allowing them to expand their social and cultural horizons. Moreover, they get to interact with their elected officials and engage in discussions that will help shape their future.

“One thing I learned is that networking is so important and you should talk to and get to know as many people as you possibly can because you never know who you could connect with that can help you in the future.” Dylan Barca, a youth tour delegate from New Jersey told the Stinger News.

For students who participate in the program, the PREA Youth Tour opens up many opportunities down the road. For example, it can be an excellent boost to a student’s college application. It shows that the student has a genuine interest in history and has gone beyond their regular coursework to learn more about public affairs. Attending the PREA Youth Tour also demonstrates a desire to seek leadership opportunities and be an active participant in their community.

Delegates on the trip had the opportunity to participate in an event called “all-state evening” which included students from all of the participating states. The events kicked off with music, lights, and activities to hype the students up.  Students competed to see who could represent their state the loudest with different chants and cheers. The clear winner was the state of Alabama, with their iconic “Roll Tide Roll” chant. Following this, were keynote speakers.  The students learned about a trip that a man from an electrical co-op in Iowa recently took to Guatemala in order to bring electricity to a small village of people there.

“The story was both powerful and moving,” Ian Paul, a youth tour delegate from Pennsylvania told the Stinger News.

The PREA Youth Tour is made possible by the annual support of local electric cooperatives. It is wonderful to see local communities come together to support students and give them unique experiences that will help prepare them for success later in life. These electric cooperatives provide students with an opportunity of a lifetime to expand their horizons and contribute to building a vibrant community that is focused on knowledge, community service, and leadership.

Attending the PREA Youth Tour in Washington, D.C. is a unique and exceptional opportunity for Marion Center High School students as well as students across the country. The program enables students to learn about American history and experience our nation’s capital in a profound way. They also learn about electric cooperatives and how these institutions help serve their local communities. Attending the PREA Youth Tour is an investment in the future of our students and our communities, and it is made possible each year by the generous support of local electric cooperatives.