Hardy Sponsoring Two County Juniors For D.C. Trip

(Left to right) East Hardy High Junior Brianna Walker and Moorefield High Junior Quincy Combs have been selected to attend the 2023 Foundation for Rural Service Youth Tour in Washington, D.C., sponsored by Hardy Telecommunications.

Two Hardy County high school juniors will learn about the rural telecommunications industry and visit several of our country’s most historic sites during a free four-day trip to Washington, D.C., sponsored by Hardy Telecommunications.

East Hardy High Junior Brianna Walker and Moorefield High Junior Quincy Combs have been selected as Hardy’s students for the 2023 Foundation for Rural Service Youth Tour in Washington. The pair will spend May 31 through June 4 in D.C., enjoying sightseeing and participating in educational sessions about telecommunications and the governmental processes surrounding the industry, said Hardy Assistant General Manager Derek Barr. About 100 students from across the country, all sponsored by their local rural telecommunications company, are expected to attend.

It’s the first time since 2019 that Hardy will be sending students to the Youth Tour. The 2020 and 2021 tours were cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and last year no students applied amid vaccination and health protocols that have now been eased. Hardy also had not had an East Hardy student apply for several years, so this year’s tour marks a welcome return to form.

“This is a wonderful opportunity, and unfortunately the last few years with the pandemic have been a very hard time, so the tour was difficult to coordinate,” Derek said. “We’re delighted to once again be able to send students from both high Hardy County high schools to the tour.”

Hardy pays all basic expenses for the two students, including hotel, meals, and transportation.

The tentative agenda for this year’s FRS Youth Tour has the group visiting the Smithsonian Museums, Lincoln Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, World War II Memorial, U.S. Capitol, Arlington National Cemetery, and Mount Vernon. A new event for Hardy County students will be a special cultural performance, something added last year to the Youth Tour schedule. That performance is sponsored by the Tim Owens Memorial Fund. The fund, established in memory of Mr. Owens, a longtime supporter of the rural telecommunications industry, makes it possible for participants of the FRS Youth Tour to experience the world-class cultural and artistic opportunities unique to Washington, D.C. In 2022 the group attended a play at the Shakespeare Theater Company.

Derek said the students will hear about the challenges of bringing modern telecommunications to a rural area like Hardy County with sparse population. The tour includes a visit to the Federal Communications Commission and question-and-answer sessions with people advocating for rural broadband in Congress.

Both Ms. Walker and Mr. Combs wrote in their applications that their interest in the tour stemmed from a desire to learn about the workings of our nation’s government.

Ms. Walker said she wanted to attend the tour “to gain a better understanding of our nation’s government and broaden my horizon in my education.”

Mr. Combs said he thought the experience would enable him to help others in Hardy County.

“I wish to participate in this tour to deepen my understanding of the government. I believe knowing politics makes a person a better citizen. I hope to learn from this trip… any information I can use to help improve my community, including educating others and volunteering in community events,” he said.

The Foundation for Rural Service (FRS) was established in 1994 as a non-profit 501(c)(3) by NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association. FRS programs advance rural communities by focusing on education for rural youth, encouraging community development and introducing policymakers to the challenges of providing broadband services in rural communities.

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