DEFUNIAK SPRINGS — Five area high school juniors have won a trip to Washington, D.C., in June, sponsored by Choctawhatchee Electrical Cooperative.

Four won the trip on the annual Washington, D.C., Youth Tour through a local competition, while another, the son of a CHELCO employee, won a statewide essay contest among the children and grandchildren of electric cooperative employees. 

The four CHELCO Youth Tour students selected for the June trip were Olivia Hurley, Baker High; John Gillis, Crestview High; Camryn Brazile, Paxton High; and, Greg Garrett, South Walton High.

Zach Wolfrom, who attends Niceville High School, is the 2018 Florida Electric Cooperative Association essay competition winner and will represent the state of Florida. He is the son of Vice President of Member Services Steve Wolfrom.

The National Rural Electric Cooperatives Association organized the tour. Once in Washington, D.C., students will join about 1,800 other representatives from across the country and spend a week learning about government, history and the role of cooperatives. The students were selected by their schools for the program.

Youth Tour Coordinator Bonnie Whitfield said, “I am proud to coordinate a program for CHELCO where students, who might not have the chance otherwise, are given the opportunity to learn about our government and cooperatives. Students always come back from Washington, D.C. with a greater understanding about our country.”

The first part involved a two-day trip to Tallahassee for 20 exceptional students from across CHELCO’s service territory. During the trip, they attended and participated in a mock trial and Senate hearing.

After the Tallahassee trip, the same students participated in a local competition where judges interviewed each for 10 minutes. The judges then selected four top-scoring students to participate in the D.C. tour.

CHELCO is a not-for-profit electric distribution cooperative serving more than 50,000 accounts in Walton, Okaloosa, Holmes and Santa Rosa counties.