By Kyle Jillson | April 14 2013 11:10

New Mexico's 2012 NRA Y.E.S. participant reflects on last year's summit

Emily Allen, who attended the 2012 Youth Education Summit on behalf of her home state of New Mexico, recently sent us an essay she'd written on how the weeklong trip to D.C. has influenced her life. Read on to have Emily share the knowledge she gained at Y.E.S.

2012 NRA Youth Education Summit Emily Allen of New Mexico

I will never forget the excitement that ran through me as I opened the packet with trembling hands that told me I had been chosen as the 2012 Youth Education Summit representative for New Mexico. I originally applied for the trip because of my love of history and Y.E.S. sounded like a great way to get to enjoy some history in our nation’s capital. Little did I know that this trip would open my horizons and help me become the person I am today.

Through the Youth Education Summit, I have become the civically active person I have always dreamed of being. The Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Program was one of the many excellent programs I learned about while on the trip. I absolutely love this program and I have gained many opportunities to teach and hand it out as a volunteer of the program. Through outdoor and gun shows, along with scouting and church groups, I have had the opportunity to affect over 650 kids in my local area! It is so incredibly rewarding to have little kids run out of the classroom to tell their parents about what Eddie just taught them, knowing that it could save these little guys’ lives.

Thanks to the many times I have been given the chance to speak at Friends of the NRA banquets, my public speaking abilities have grown immensely. I have gained so much experience getting to talk to the attendees and presenting speeches about my trip to Y.E.S. I have also been able to face my toughest audiences, my peers, while speaking about Y.E.S. to my school and scouting troops. The fears I used to have when standing at the speaker’s podium have slowly dissipated with every speaking opportunity, being replaced with a sense of enjoyment and confidence.

The Youth Education Summit has made me much more aware of our government and standing up for our rights. I have become aware through Y.E.S. that if I want to keep a right, I cannot wait for someone else to come and protect it. As part of the future leaders and workers of the United States, my generation needs to stand up for their beliefs today before they are taken from us tomorrow. Y.E.S. made me realize that I will not be standing for the rights I believe in alone. Through this incredible program, I have been able to create friendships that will last a lifetime. I was given the opportunity to meet many people my age who support many of the same ideals as me come from all over the country. With these new friends, I know that I will never have to be alone when I stand up for a valued right in America.

My life has changed so much through the Youth Education Summit. I look back now and see that I am not the same person I was last year. Now I did not walk into Y.E.S. one person and come out at the end of the week a radically new person, but it planted seeds in me, that when nurtured have grown me into a stronger person. My many thanks go out to those who contribute to the Friends of the NRA (as they funded this experience), the individuals who put the Summit on, and anyone else who has been involved with this program. I have gained many skills that will help me as I stand up for rights that I strongly believe in, such as the Second Amendment. I hope the Youth Education Class of 2013 and all the future classes can learn and grow from their Y.E.S. experiences as I have.

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