DEFUNIAK SPRINGS — Four rising high school seniors have expressed appreciation for the nation’s capital after returning from a five-day, electric cooperative-funded trip.


DEFUNIAK SPRINGS — Four rising high school seniors have expressed appreciation for the nation’s capital after returning from a five-day, electric cooperative-funded trip.



Rachel Gold of Niceville High School, Devin Herrington of Freeport High, Brandon Engler of Baker and Christopher Hammonds of Paxton were among 32 high school students sent to Washington by the state’s electricity distribution co-ops and Florida Electric Cooperatives Association. Choctawhatchee Electrical Cooperative paid for the trip.



Florida’s co-op contingent mingled with about 1,600 students from 639 of America’s other cooperatives. They visited museums and monuments, took a Potomac River boat tour, saw the play “Anything Goes” at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and met their representatives in Congress.



That was just a fraction of the five days of activity.



Herrington enjoyed the Newseum, a museum exhibiting the press’ role.



Engler described the Washington National Cathedral as the tour’s most breathtaking site. “It was awesome,” he said. “Its size, the architecture … it was beautiful.”



Overall, the trip “was fantastic; better than I could have imagined,” Hammonds said. “It was definitely one of the best experiences of my life.”



Gold — who competed to be Florida’s representative on the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Youth Leadership Council — was selected as the alternate.



“I’m not just talking it up when I say Youth Tour was completely worth the effort that we all put into it,” she said.



CHELCO — which has sponsored local high school students in the national Youth Tour program since 1983 — is preparing for the 2014 campaign. Visit www.chelco.com for information about Youth Tour.