SSVEC Announces 2021 WYT Scholarship Winners

Scholarships totaling $12,000 are being awarded to the 15 area high school juniors who have been named to the 40th annual Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative (SSVEC) Foundation Washington Youth Tour.

Winning students will receive $1,000 scholarships and finalists in the competition will receive $500 awards. Students representing six Cochise County high schools and one home school student were named the winners of the Washington Youth Tour, while six students representing five schools earned finalist honors.

Winners of the annual Washington Youth Tour competition include Spencer Allred, Jonathan Collins and Diana Field of Willcox High School; Zoe Lynn and Cameron Tinney of Veritas; Genevieve Eberhardt of Tombstone High School; Eliana Damato of Buena High School; Heather Blanchette of St. David High School and home school student Robert Gavin.

Finalists in the annual competition include Martin Barrios and Jade Mills of Veritas; Amity Hall of Benson High School; Sariah Fry of St. David; Megan Izzo of Tombstone High School; and Amelia McLachlan of Buena High School.

Until 2020 and the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, students named winners were eligible for an all-expense paid tour of Washington, D.C. Finalists were offered to join the tour with the SSVEC Foundation assuming a substantial portion of the cost.

Due to the pandemic, winners and finalists in the annual competition are presented scholarships for their post-secondary education.

The Washington Youth Tour has been sponsored by the SSVEC Foundation since 1981, in cooperation with some 900 electric cooperatives across the county. High school juniors are invited to the nation’s capital for one week in June where they visit Congress and the White House, see historic sights and attend seminars sponsored by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

Funding for the annual tour is provided by the SSVEC Foundation. The foundation generates its revenue from community donations and capital credits not claimed by SSVEC members. Each year SSVEC follows legal requirements to return money (refundable deposits, fees and capital credits) to its members. If the Cooperative is unable to locate individuals, the money is contributed to the Foundation. Previous to the establishment of the Foundation in 1984 such money was forfeited to the State of Arizona.

All students attending schools in the SSVEC service area receive a presentation on the Washington Youth Tour program at their school from SSVEC representatives during the fall semester each year. Or, students are invited to schedule an appointment with the SSVEC Youth Programs Coordinator to hear about the competition.

Study packets are distributed during the presentation and about one week later students take a qualifying test on the material. The test consists of 50 true-false questions. The highest scoring students from each school advance to the next level — writing an essay.

Essays are scored by four judges. These judges are often teachers, journalists, directors of community or youth organizations or representatives from other cooperatives. Students with the top scoring essays advance to the semi-final level. They receive a packet of study materials about cooperatives, rural electrification and energy.

For the final competition, students take a test on these materials and are interviewed by four judges. The essay, the exam and the interview are worth 100 points each (for a total of 300 points) to determine which students are selected as winners or finalists.

For more info on the Washington Youth Tour go to: