Aug 8, 2023 | posted by Conner Williams

DirectLink sends local student to Washington, D.C.

DirectLink recently sponsored local high school student Osten Terry for a trip to Washington, D.C. for the Foundation for Rural Service (FRS) Youth Tour, an annual opportunity for local students to visit the nation’s capital to learn about rural broadband service and see legislative processes in action. FRS is the philanthropic arm of the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA), operating as a 501(c)(3) non-profit by supporting rural telecom companies, consumers, and policymakers with educational information, products, and programming. 

When speaking with Osten, it’s easy to tell that he has a passion for learning. Osten lives in Mulino and is entering his senior year at Molalla High School, where he is involved with Track & Field, Cross Country, and Swimming, along with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. While Osten attends MHS, his family lives in the DirectLink service territory. Moving forward, DirectLink intends to continue participating in the FRS Youth Tour program. We encourage any students that live within the DirectLink service area who will be under the age of 18 for the next trip in June 2024 to watch for an application announcement later this year. 

Photo caption: Osten Terry (left) accepts a basket of goodies before his trip to D.C. from DirectLink President Paul Hauer

Before traveling to Washington, D.C., Osten said Portland, OR was the biggest city he’d visited and that he wanted to go to D.C. because he was interested in seeing the government in action along with the history and architecture of the nation’s capital. 

The Youth Tour brings students from all corners of rural America together for a chance to learn more about the ins and outs of broadband internet service and how policies come together from the highest level of decision-makers. Osten said his favorite part about the trip was getting to meet the other students that attended the Youth Tour and hear their stories. 

“It was really cool to talk to them and hear how their small towns operate, share my small-town experience, and see how even though we’re across the country, there’s a lot of similarities,” Osten said. 

Osten noted one thing he learned that stuck with him was seeing government in action. “We toured some congressional rooms and talked to some important people … I had a brief understanding of how congress works, but now my understanding of it is much better,” he said. “While we were in D.C., there were some important bills being worked on, and that was a pretty big deal there.”

When it comes to witnessing legislation in action, Osten said he appreciated seeing cooperation across the aisle. “It was cool to see that they weren’t at each other’s throats, they were completely respectful of each other despite being from different political parties, so that was pretty uplifting” Osten said. “They actually do agree on a lot of the same things, and they want to help each other, it’s for the greater cause of helping people.” 

Osten is exploring his options for college and has some ideas for a future career path based on interests in architecture or technology, centering on software design or computer-aided design (CAD) applications. He said his experiences in D.C. have helped him think about some of the options available to him, and he particularly enjoyed seeing the historic and innovative architecture present throughout the capital. 

“All these buildings are made out of incredible marble and stone, and it’s not an eyesore to see the old, colonial-aged buildings along with the new ones, it just blends together which is really cool to see,” Osten said. 

After learning about the world of rural broadband from behind the scenes, Osten said he has a newfound appreciation for his family’s fiber optic connection at home. 

“My dad works from home half of the week, so having a good connection is definitely important for our family,” Osten said. “He’s always in [video] meetings all the time here which does take a lot of internet usage, so the fiber upgrade definitely has helped. I can be on the internet while he’s still working, along with my mom and brother doing their thing, so we can all be online seamlessly at the same time.” 

DirectLink is proud to support local students like Osten and help facilitate opportunities for career and educational growth. As your local community cooperative for over a century, we’re here for you. 

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