(SPOKANE)—Late this evening the stairs were rolled out to an arriving commuter flight and a young man, Joshua Ross (18) stepped off the plane after being transformed by a once in a lifetime opportunity to engage directly with some of the most powerful lawmakers in the nation. Ross is the first George Nethercutt Citizenship Tournament Champion and today ended his week-long experience in Washington DC with Former U.S. Congressman George Nethercutt and a delegation from his Foundation. The trip allowed the group to participate in civics at a national level, inside the halls of Congress. They educated lawmakers on the need for more focus on civic engagement among Americans, especially students.
Ross is a 2014 graduate of Central Valley High School and an incoming freshman at Brigham Young University in Provo, UT. He took the top prize of a $10,000 scholarship and the trip to DC by competing successfully against more than 550 applicants from over 40 schools throughout Eastern Washington. Any who may have thought this trip would be just looking at monuments and going to museums though, would have been mistaken.
“It is really something to see the Capitol with a former Member of Congress,” said Ron Irwin, executive director of the George Nethercutt Foundation. “Josh and our delegation saw a lot of sights, but we also worked. We had meeting after meeting with sitting lawmakers from across the country, and from across the political spectrum of ideas. The goal was simple stress the need for more civic engagement through civic learning programs like the Nethercutt Foundation tournament.”
Former Congressman George Nethercutt (R-Spokane) arranged the meetings and opportunities for Ross and the delegation (which, consisted of Irwin, Jeff Naslund a local civic teacher at Mt. Spokane High School, Marty Frazier a High School Guidance Counselor at Lewis & Clark High School, Perry Ross, father of Joshua Ross, Karissa Naslund, a pediatric nurse and, of course, Nethercutt).
Nethercutt is planning to take the Tournament national in the coming year, which he said gave him an issue of substance to talk to members about.
“My former colleagues, both Republican and Democrat, are eager to find programs like this that inspire Americans to engage with their government and to embrace their civic responsibilities,” said Nethercutt. “It is my intention to launch this foundation and this competition nationally and to announce other projects and programs that will thrust civic learning back to the forefront of the American consciousness.
The George Nethercutt Foundation is a non-profit, independent organization dedicated to U.S. History and Civics learning. Sound bytes, schedules and photos from the trip are available.