Arika Booms, a Junior at Harbor Beach High School, was an area high school student chosen to represent Thumb Electric Cooperative on this year’s National Rural Electric Cooperative Youth Tour in June. Here, she shares her thoughts on the experience.

By Arika Booms, Harbor Beach High School

Overall, I loved the Washington D.C. trip so much; I cannot thank Thumb Electric and the organizers enough. There is something really special about being in the nation’s capital, where some of the most significant events in history took place. I would often take a moment and think in amazement, “Here’s where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his ‘I have a dream…’ speech or here is where the laws that influence my life were made.” It was amazing to realize that almost every president lived and led our country here.

I learned more about history and gained a greater appreciation for it. I loved meeting so many wonderful, beautiful people. We did more than trade state pins and stickers; we made connections and friendships from all across the country.

After this trip, I felt inspired to learn more about politics and get more involved. This trip was an opportunity of a lifetime! I cannot thank my electric co-op enough for their generosity and eagerness to empower the next generation of people with the skills they need to lead.

Youth Tour opened my eyes to what it means to be a part of an electric co-op. About 75 years ago, electric cooperatives changed the lives of rural Americans by providing them with electricity and opportunity. Ironically, electric co-ops were formed in a similar way to our country: people coming together to change something for the better. Cooperatives today are still nonprofit and community-based. It’s for the people by the people. I feel comfort in knowing that. Electric co-ops continue to find ways to improve and reach out to those in need. I was genuinely enlightened on the role electric co-ops have in our country and other countries.

Thank you for this opportunity to represent Thumb Electric and Michigan.