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Area high school students selected for week in Washington D.C.

Area high school students Mele LeLievre (Pagosa Springs), Julia Nass (Durango), Ethan Pearson (Ignacio) and Lisa Wickman (Bayfield) have been selected to participate in the National Rural Electric Youth Tour to Washington D.C. hosted by La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) and The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA).

The opportunity to participate in the D.C. Youth Tour, this year scheduled for June 11-17, is annually open to all area high school juniors who receive their electric power from La Plata Electric Association, and LPEA endeavors to accept a student from each municipal district.

Students completed an application and penned a 500 word essay on any aspect of the electric industry. Their efforts were judged anonymously by an independent committee.

Excerpts of the students’ essays follow. To review the complete essays of the winning Youth Tour applicants, visit the LPEA web site,

Wrote LeLievre, a junior from Pagosa Springs High School, “… A couple of days before I was born, a hurricane hit Kauai and electricity was shut down, causing devastation for our family and all those inhabiting the island. For six weeks, people were using fire pits to boil water, kerosene and candles to read by, and finding ways other than television and radio for their entertainment.”

A junior at Durango High School, Nass wrote, “The enormous amount of progression occurring in today’s technological era is possible only because of the power that fuels it. Namely, electricity; it holds an insane amount of power over this world. There can be little doubt that the very hope for our future depends on its wise and responsible use.”

Pearson, a junior at Ignacio High School, wrote, “…I believe that without electricity the world would be nothing like it is today… I find it amazing how much humans have changed their way of doing things. Back in ‘the old days’ people used to write all their essays and work on a piece of paper. Now people just pull out their laptops and just type it up, just like I am doing with this paper.”

Wrote Bayfield High School junior Wickman, “Now more than ever, the need to save energy is imperative. Saving energy means saving money as well as saving the environment. By using fluorescent light bulbs, both of these issues can be solved by average Americans. If each household in California changed one light bulb for a compact fluorescent one, 616 million kilowatt hours of energy would be saved in one year.”

 LeLievre, Nass, Pearson and Wickman will join juniors from LPEA’s sister electric co-ops across Colorado for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. The schedule includes an intimate look at the nation’s capitol and the government from the inside. Students will explore issues surrounding the electric industry as well as discuss current concerns with national and state Congressional representatives — key in this era of potential energy shortage. Social activities are also part of the agenda.

Applications for the 2011 Washington DC Youth Tour will be available in November 2010 through La Plata Electric or area high school counselors. Home-schooled students are also eligible.

For further information, contact Jeannie Bennett, 382-3505 or