The "Youth Rally" program, sponsored locally by Homer Electric Association (HEA), started back in the fifties, according to Mary Ann Snowden, HEA Market Coordinator, "Alaska began participating some 20 years ago, and HEA began its involvement with this educational program back in 1995 when we first looked at it and our first Youth Rally contest was in 1996," said Snowden.
The HEA contest is targeted towards students in their sophomore and junior years in the Kenai Peninsula School District. Students selected by HEA's community panel become ambassadors for Alaska and attend a camp in Idaho. While in Idaho the students are observed for leadership qualities and interviewed by sponsors and may be selected for a two-year term as a Youth Leadership Council member. If selected they attend a weeklong leadership camp in Nebraska and the following month they are sent with other national council members to a tour of Washington D.C.
"Students who apply are not just your A+ students, they are just your average students here on the Peninsula who are drawn by the opportunity to travel for the summer," added Snowden. Applications for Youth Rally become available in January but pre-registrations are available by e-mail at www.homerelectric.com.
Katie Floyd, now a senior at Nikiski High School, was an HEA Youth Rally winner this year and was selected this summer in Idaho as a Youth Leadership Council member and flown to Nebraska and Washington D.C. "It was really awesome! I never understood how wonderful our nation's capitol really is, pictures don't really do it justice, it was an awesome experience," said Floyd.
There were some 1,500 students from all across America present at the national convention, "We had a chance to get up and speak about problems that were going on in our communities like funding education and the drought problems in the lower 48. Then afterward students suggested how we could address these challenges and what we could do to go back to our communities and start programs to improve these problems through community service," said Floyd who is already involved with programs that promote abstinence to 7th graders and has participated in the Caring For The Kenai environmental awareness partnership.
"They really encouraged us to get out and volunteer wherever we could and to be a help to younger and older people in our communities. I feel this program is going to have a great impact nationally as well as locally," said Floyd.
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