Thomas County Central High School junior Claire Pope will be one of a select group of students privy to a special online leadership experience this summer.
Pope, 17, is Grady EMC’s Thomas County representative chosen for the annual Electric Cooperative Youth Tour, otherwise known as the Washington Youth Tour. The program typically sends youth delegates to Washington D.C. for an immersive leadership experience by visiting various national treasures and observing the country’s political mechanisms in action.
“It was an honor to be selected to represent Thomas County on the Washington Youth Tour,” Pope said. “I recognize the value this experience will provide and am excited about this opportunity.”
Pope became interested in the tour because she plans to major in history and become a museum curator.
“I was drawn to the possibility of attending … as a means to broaden my scope of learning as well as having the opportunity to meet other students in our area with similar interests,” she said.
Unfortunately, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the tour will not take place in person this year. Instead, the event will be a three-day virtual leadership program.
The leadership branch to which Pope most identifies is servant leadership.
“This means you put others above yourself for the benefit of the whole,” Pope said. “Servant leadership encompasses the characteristics of selflessness and dedication to the mission of the group. Strong leadership also includes setting an example of working hard and maintaining focus and persistence to reach goals. I have had many wonderful examples of effective leaders and have tried to emulate their leadership styles in my various school and community leadership roles.”
According to information provided by Georgia EMC, the 2021 virtual experience set for June 22-24 will focus on leadership and networking amongst these like-minded teen participants with various interactive activities planned.
“The program will be totally live – no canned, pre-recorded videos – with teens able to ask questions of all the presenters,” Georgia EMC Senior Public Relations Coordinator Gale Cutler wrote in an email to potential chaperones. “We are working to make it very interactive so delegates can get to know their peers across the state through mentor groups, regional and college-specific breakouts and off-line chats. Delegates will also be invited to participate in a post-event small group video challenge for a chance to win one of several $5,000 college scholarships."
Although Pope would love to participate in an in-person tour on location, she understands the continued safety concerns.
“Because we will not have to account for travel time, I am hopeful that this virtual tour may afford an even wider variety of locations [and] experiences,” she said. “History and government are my favorite subjects, so I am most looking forward to gaining a deeper understanding of the political and historical aspects of our nation.”
Pope anticipates taking part in the upcoming virtual event.
“In a time when we have experienced so many disappointments due to the global pandemic, I am extremely grateful to Grady EMC for working to find a way to continue this special opportunity for me and the other students selected for the youth tour,” she said. “This is sure to be an experience I will never forget!”