By Kyle Jillson | July 26 2013 11:22

Virginia State NRA Youth Education Summit begins season for 2014 National Y.E.S. in Washington D.C.

Virginia NRA Youth Education Summit participants stand outside the Virginia State Capitol Building in Richmond, Virginia

Fairfax, Virginia - Earlier this month, Virginia joined the list of states conducting state-level NRA Youth Education Summits in the lead-up to the annual National Y.E.S. program in Washington D.C. Like National Y.E.S., the Virginia State Y.E.S. is an expenses-paid educational experience on leadership skills and community involvement for high school students. The Y.E.S. website has a great write-up of the experience that you can read below.

Eleven students from across the Commonwealth of Virginia traveled to Richmond from July 12-14 to attend the Virginia State Youth Education Summit (Y.E.S.) program. There, the students met with state legislators, toured the Capitol building, and visited other sites around Richmond to learn more about Virginia government and history while competing for $1,750 in scholarships. At the closing awards luncheon on Sunday, Clayton Noble of Fairfax was selected to represent Virginia at National Y.E.S. in the Washington, DC, area next June.

The Y.E.S. program, funded by grants through Friends of NRA, covers students’ expenses to attend as an investment in America’s future leaders. Each participant was selected from a multi-faceted application including an essay on the Second Amendment, a personal statement, a resume of extracurricular activities, and academic performance. Only applicants with a GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale are eligible for admission.

Shortly after arriving in Richmond on Friday morning, the group took a light lunch in the Capitol building and engaged state senators and delegates in a private Q&A session. Afterwards, they visited the House of Delegates chamber and even had the opportunity to practice legislative protocol and etiquette in an exercise using the same seats and voting tools that their elected officials use to decide state law! Saturday’s itinerary proved just as exciting as the day before. The students returned to the Capitol building for a special tour emphasizing the building’s history. Designed by Thomas Jefferson, the building has been host to several important moments in American history, especially during the Civil War when Richmond served as the capital of the Confederacy. In more recent history, the Capitol has been visited by Queen Elizabeth II of England and served as a stand-in for the Capitol in Washington, DC, for Steven Spielberg’s award-winning film, Lincoln.

In acknowledgement of Old Dominion’s role in the Civil War, the students spent several hours that afternoon at the Museum of the Confederacy and visited the White House of the Confederacy. There, the participants saw artifacts of the rebellion including firearms, flags, and the personal effects of famous generals such as Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart. The White House of the Confederacy, decorated and restored to the condition it was in when Jefferson Davis and his family lived in it, serves as an eerie testament to the stories of a restless man attempting to lead a botched government and command an outnumbered military.

The next morning, the group visited the Colonial Shooting Academy, “the nation’s largest indoor shooting facility,” where they learned about gun safety and marksmanship and squeezed in some rifle practice at one of their ranges. Upon returning to the hotel, students quickly changed into semi-formal attire and attended a special awards luncheon where chaperones spoke to the entire group and the three scholarship award recipients were announced before departing Richmond.

Senior NRA Field Rep for Virginia David Wells, who coordinated Virginia Y.E.S., states, “I am very pleased to have had a hand in getting this program back up and running in Virginia. I knew how rewarding this program is, and am pleased that we have a great team of volunteer coordinators that now also see the potential. I have no doubt that this year was just the start of a continuing program that the whole state can be proud of.”

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