Local students embark on extensive state capitol tour

Local students will be able to report on a special summer experience when they head back to school.

Lilly Parker, a senior at Umatilla High School and Taylor Crenshaw, a fifth-grader at The Villages Charter School, were honored to be invited to tour the Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee as representative of Florida’s Hometown USA Program. Lilly is representing her hometown of Grand Island as Florida’s Miss Hometown USA and Taylor is Florida’s Little Miss Hometown USA representing Wildwood.

The other representatives are Autumn Sommer of Winter Park, Kady McKenna of Orlando, and Kayce Taylor of Winter Springs.

“They are busy volunteering throughout Florida and the trip to Tallahassee was in recognition of their community service,” says Linda Watts, founder and director of Florida’s Hometown USA Program.

The first day the group had a private tour of the Florida Senate, the Department of Agriculture office of Commissioner Nikki Fried, the Attorney General ‘s office and they had a meeting and photo session with Gov.  Ron DeSantis. The young representatives also toured the Governor’s Mansion and the Museum of Florida History.

The second day was just as exciting with a private tour of the Florida Supreme Court, Florida House of Representatives, the Capitol building, and a meeting and photo with Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez.

“I loved visiting Florida State Capitol building and the senate. It was such an honorable experience and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” says Lilly, adding she enjoyed meeting Gov. Ron DeSantis and Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez. “Being able to meet such important political leaders, who have made an impact in our great state was absolutely amazing.”

She also found it thrilling to see where all the voting takes place and laws are passed for Florida. “I am truly blessed,” she adds.

The trip was arranged and planned by Linda Watts, founder and director of Florida’s Hometown USA Program.

“Lt. Governor was friendly and outgoing and spent a lot of time with our group,” Linda says. “She was very interested in each student’s school and community involvement. I enjoyed chatting with her about our program and just hearing about her responsibilities and commitments to our state. It was a great experience.”