Press Release – November 2017


SSVEC to Send Local Students on All-Expense-Paid Trips to Washington, D.C., Next June

Benson, November 13 — Nine high school juniors will be touring the nation’s capital for one week this next summer as winners of Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative’s (SSVEC’s) 38th annual Washington Youth Tour competition. The student finalists were recognized on Wednesday evening, November 8 following a dinner honoring them and their parents at Benson High School in Benson, Arizona.

The students who earned all-expense-paid trips to Washington, D.C., are Kenna Conley from Tombstone High School; Jordan Jackson, Madison Nelson, Amanda Roark, and Madyson Wright from Buena High School; Jayson Kilpatrick and Kaileigh Thompson from Benson High School; Cole McGuire from Patagonia High School; and Kaleb Watts from St. David High School.

The cooperative’s Washington Youth Tour program is open to all high school juniors in SSVEC’s service area. SSVEC personnel visited the nine high schools as well as two private schools served by the cooperative in September, explained the program and left study materials for a preliminary test. Those who scored highest on this test at each high school moved to the next level of competition—an essay. This year’s essay topic was “The Future of Clean Energy.”

Eighteen students whose essays scored highest were invited to the final stage of competition on the afternoon of November 8. The students took a second test covering more complex materials about SSVEC, cooperatives, energy, and electricity terminology, and each student was interviewed by a panel of four judges.

Eight students who advanced to the final competition but did not win the trip, earned $200 each for their efforts. These students are Rebekah Bechel and Will Richardson from Veritas Christian Community School, Arista Bohnas from Tombstone High School, Savanah Condon from Valley Union High School, Isis Gyzenberg from Willcox High School, John Hubbell and Gianna Martin from Patagonia High School, and Isabelle Leming from Buena High School.

Following the dinner and prior to the announcement of the winners, Washington Youth Tour Coordinator Marcus Harston explained details of the Washington Youth Tour program and the upcoming trip. He also introduced SSVEC Board members who were present Kathy Thatcher, Dan Barrera, Peter Gillespie, Gene Manring, and Gary Payne.

The Washington Youth Tour program is funded by the SSVEC Foundation. As a cooperative, SSVEC periodically returns money earned in excess of expenses to its members. When those members move out of the area and leave no forwarding address, SSVEC transfers the money to the SSVEC Foundation. This is money that was previously forfeited to the state of Arizona. With the establishment of the Foundation in 1984, the cooperative sponsors not only the Washington Youth Tour, but the annual Youth Engineering and Science Fair and the SSVEC Foundation Scholarship program.

Michele McCollum, member services assistant, announced the results of the competition, and SSVEC Board Vice President Dan Barrera presented the students with plaques recognizing their efforts.

Interview judges were Trudy Berry, former Cochise County School Superintendent; Les Boegemann, Benson attorney (and a former Youth Tour participant); Barbara Richardson, director of the Benson center and Willcox Center of Cochise College; and J.D. Wallace, cooperative communications, social media and marketing administrator for Arizona Generation and Transmission Cooperatives.

Chaperons for the 2018 tour are Torey Bell, SSVEC Relay/Power Quality Engineer, and his wife,  Shannon. Students and chaperons will tour Washington, D.C., from June 7-14, 2018.

For more information, Contact Wayne Crane:
  • In Willcox, 520-384-5510
  • or Sierra Vista, 520-458-4691 (ext. 5510)


For Immediate Release: #17-006