Blane Skiles | Trinity Valley EC, 2011
By Jessica Ridge | June 1, 2019
Blane Skiles had never been on an airplane before he attended Youth Tour. He’d been to Disney World, but that was as far as he’d traveled from his small northeast Texas town of Trinidad, a place with “one stoplight, a Dairy Queen and a gas station,” as he describes it.
Skiles prepared meticulously for the 2011 trip, sponsored by Trinity Valley Electric Cooperative, poring over the Youth Tour participant guide and noting attendees who were from nearby towns. “I remember being excited and intrigued about all the people I would get to meet and wanting to make friends out of it,” he says.
His diligent approach paid off, and his time in Washington didn’t disappoint. Not only did Skiles make friends on Youth Tour, but the Texas contingent’s visit to the Newseum stoked his burgeoning interest in politics and latent aspiration to become a journalist. A quote on the museum’s wall especially resonated with him. “There are three kinds of people who run toward disaster, not away: cops, firemen and reporters,” he recalls it reading. “I remember leaving and knowing that I probably wanted to be a journalist, in whatever capacity.”
Skiles has achieved that goal as multiplatform content manager for KSLA News in Shreveport, Louisiana, where he strategizes story coverage across the station’s online and TV platforms. “I’m so lucky,” he says. “I love my job. I hate to tell my managers this, but I do—that I would do it for free.”
A lot has changed for Skiles since his visit to the Newseum eight years ago. In addition to his work in broadcast journalism, he’s an adjunct professor of mass communications—not to mention a husband and a father. And through all those years, he still realizes the profound impact Youth Tour can have on those who attend.
That’s why he encourages high schoolers today to take the leap.
“Do it. Apply,” he says. “It’s a privilege and an important experience that you’re getting to be a part of.”