MANATEE -- Writing talent and a little mentoring helped a Southeast High School junior win a week-long trip to Washington, D.C., this summer.
Shakera Latimore, an 11th grade Southeast student, won the opportunity to explore the nation's capital as part of the Peace River Electric Cooperative's national Youth Tour to Washington, D.C. event.
Latimore was chosen based on a two-page essay about how energy efficiency benefits a family as well as a utility, along with her extracurricular activities and community involvement. The guidance office from each participating school chose one student's essay from the application pool to send to Ruralite Services in Oregon for judging. Ruralite is the publisher of Peace River's monthly member magazine and newsletter.
"The strength of the student's essay carries the most weight. They are expected to produce a well-written essay which adequately addresses the topic," said Mark Sellers, the communications coordinator for Peace River.
Latimore will join about 30 other students from Florida electric cooperatives and students from co-ops in 46 other states for a week-long tour of Washington in mid-June.
Latimore, who is involved in the Take Stock in Children program, thanked her mentor, Shalene Robbinson, for encouraging her to use her writing talents and enter. Latimore plans to study biology in college.
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, headquartered in Arlington, Va., has coordinated this event for nearly 50 years. Chaperones for the Youth Tour are electric cooperative employees.
"The inspiration for Youth Tour came from Senator Lyndon B. Johnson in 1957, when he addressed the National Rural Electric Association. It started gaining momentum in 1964," Sellers said.
"Every student, about 1,500, gathers under one roof to hear motivational speakers, learn important industry topics, and learn electric co-op history and their importance in the development of rural areas," he said.
Erica Earl, Herald reporter, can be contacted at 941-748-0411, ext. 7081.