Florida Youth Tour inspires local students

Area students on the youth tour, from left, Caleb Jackson, Milton High School; Drake Driskell, Northview High School; Taylor Baggett, Central High School; Caroline Harp, Jay High School; Hannah Bott, Central High School; Taylor George, Central High School; Julianna Money, Northview High School

Special to Atmore News

When Northview High School junior Drake Driskell sat on the floor of the Florida Senate for a mock bill debate, appreciation for the Youth Tour experience sank in. As he took in the room from the perspective of a state lawmaker, he realized what a unique opportunity he had been given.
“That was probably my favorite part because we got to see what it’s like to be a Senator,” he said. “I may never get to do that again. I would definitely recommend it to any student who is interested.”
Driskell was one of seven local high school students who attended the Florida Electric Cooperatives 2022 Tallahassee Youth Tour in February, courtesy of Escambia River Electric Cooperative (EREC). Each student applied and was chosen based on their GPA and a written essay.
Students toured the Challenger Learning Center, held a mock bill debate on the floor of the Senate and a mock trial in the Supreme Court, and visited the state Supreme Court and the Museum of Florida History.
Taylor Baggett, a student at Central High School, was unable to attend last year as a junior due to COVID; however, was afforded the opportunity to participate as a senior this year. Baggett participated as a judge in a Supreme Court mock trial. “It was so interesting how people come together to fight for causes and to be able to enjoy this experience with other students from around Florida made it that much better,” Baggett said. “I believe that it’s very important for students like us to be involved in politics and our government.” Baggett feels this experience will serve her well as she holds the positions as vice president of her senior class and president of her high school’s FFA program.
All the Florida electric cooperatives select the youths from their local high schools to attend the Youth Tour, and all expenses are paid by the sponsoring electric cooperative.
“Through attending the tour, young people learn about government, and about their local electric cooperatives and the role they play in their communities,” EREC CEO Ryan Campbell said. “It’s very important that we have these young leaders in our community learning to use their voice for what they are passionate about.”