Brooklyn Lamars reflects on her experience during the 2018 Washington D.C Youth Tour.
After finding I had been chosen to join the Washington D.C. Youth Tour as a representative of the Flathead Electric Cooperative, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from the opportunity. I knew that I would get to tour many iconic landmarks in the city, I was excited to meet the Montana Senators and Congressman, and I knew I would have fun, but I also vastly underestimated how life altering this week could be. The Washington D.C. Youth Tour exposes you to the diversity of co-ops and communities across the nation, but I would never have guessed that I would see the most diversity between the delegates from Montana and North Dakota.
Having grown up in a community of 25,000 my entire life’s perception of rural had been defined by my home city; however, after meeting my new friends from the Youth Tour I quickly learned how different and diverse the idea of “rural Montana” could be. For the first time I had been given the opportunity to truly talk and ask questions about the lives of other high school students that lived in vastly different cultures. From learning that one student from Circle, Montana was in a class of 12 or that my lack of jitterbugging dance moves was abnormal to others, the youth tour helped transform my perception and understanding of the state of Montana.
Touring the Capitol, meeting our senators, reflecting on memorials and learning through interactive museums all helped me build a deeper connection and admiration for my country, but it also showed me that even from a state of 1 million people, the lives and views of those who live there can be diverse. This realization helped me view the cooperative model in a new and fascinating light because it was a working model of how business can function as a democracy and provide a necessary service that bridges the needs of many.
“I could not be more grateful to the Flathead Electric Cooperative for providing me such an amazing experience that has no doubt changed my views of the community I live in. I have been inspired to become more involved within the Co-op and I am excited to share my experience with others to help advocate for the rural needs of Montana. The NRECA Youth Tour not only exposed me to the diversity of cooperative influence in the nation, but also the incredible diversity that exists just within Montana as well. I developed a new sense of pride and understanding of my community and was able to ask questions of a perspective I hadn’t before considered. Thank you to the staff and members of the Flathead Electric Cooperative for giving youth the once in a lifetime opportunity of participating in the Washington D.C. Youth Tour.”
– Brooklyn Lamars