Two rising seniors at Moorefield High School both described the 2019 Foundation for Rural Service Youth Tour in Washington, D.C., as a “great experience,” and they thanked Hardy for sponsoring them on the trip.
Allison Barr and Kennedie Hinger spent June 1-5 in the nation’s capital with more than 100 students from rural areas around the country. All of the students were sponsored by small telecommunications companies like Hardy.
“Though I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect on the trip, it turned out to be one of the greatest experiences of my life,” Allison said.
“Overall, this was a once-in-a-lifetime, humbling, educational opportunity!” Kennedie said.
The Youth Tour is designed to be both fun and educational. Students tour the popular sites and landmarks of D.C., but they also visit the Federal Communications Commission and learn about the issues facing rural telecommunications and the difficulties of delivering modern telecommunications services in sparsely populated areas with often rugged terrain.
The students heard from three FCC commissioners, including current Chairman Ajit Pai. Mr. Pai told the students that he grew up in a rural Kansas community, so he understands the importance of the federal government supporting rural telecommunications companies.
Students also were able to ask questions of the commissioners, and they grilled them about the future of 5G technology, the problem of robocalls, and how the FCC will ensure that rural areas don’t get left behind as new technology is rolled out in the United States.
The students also enjoyed the wonderful history of Washington, D.C., visiting Arlington National Cemetery, the WWII, Korean, Vietnam, and Lincoln Memorials, the Smithsonian Museums, the U.S. Capitol and surrounding area, the Newseum, Mount Vernon, and more.
“Through these visits, I gained a new appreciation for our beautiful nation,” Allison said. “I also got to visit the Federal Communications Commission, and I learned about how telecommunications companies serve rural areas, and how common challenges in these areas are being solved at the congressional level.”
Kennedie said she learned more about the technology that impacts the lives of youth everywhere.
“I was taught more about broadband and how it worked and some of the complications of these services,” she said.
Both Allison and Kennedie said a major benefit of the trip was meeting their peers from all over the country and realizing how much they have in common.
“We all came from pretty small communities and many of them had never been to D.C. before,” Kennedie said. “Touring the monuments and museums allowed me to have a better appreciation for them and what they stood for.”
Allison said the experience was “life-changing.”
“I went on the trip among complete strangers and came out with a group of close friends from all over the country. I will forever cherish the memories that we made this week, and I fully intend to stay in touch with the amazing people I got to meet,” she said.
Derek Barr, Hardy’s director of customer service and sales, marketing and human resources, urged students to apply for next year’s tour. Hardy typically sends one student each from Moorefield and East Hardy high schools, but no East Hardy students applied for this year’s tour. Hardy is limited to sending two students.
Established in 1994 by NTCA – the Rural Broadband Association, the Foundation for Rural Service (FRS) is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization that promotes, educates and advocates rural telecom issues in order to sustain and enhance the quality of life within communities throughout rural America.