“Good morning! Thanks for joining us.”
It’s 4 a.m. and Adam Hammond is already nearly three hours into his day — and loving every minute of it.
While most are still warm and snug in bed, he’s beginning a four-hour stint as the morning news anchor at Nashville’s News Channel 5. Hammond calls television broadcasting his dream job, and he credits Walton EMC and the Washington Youth Tour (WYT) with helping him get there.
Telling his story
Hammond was a 16-year-old sophomore at Oconee County High School when he decided to compete to represent Walton EMC as a 2002 WYT delegate.
To qualify, he completed an entry form and then took a written exam on electricity and cooperatives. The test was relatively easy for the Bogart native who was raised in an electric co-op family.
“I grew up knowing how important the EMCs are, and why members need to participate,” Hammond said. “My grandmother still attends the annual meeting every year.”
His test scores elevated him to the interview round where judges named him one of four winners of an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. The annual youth leadership development opportunity provides teens an up-close look at the inner workings of state and federal governments.
“I always had an interest in politics, and that grew into so much more because of the youth tour,” he said. “It exposed me to so many things you can’t know about until you experience Washington the way we did.”
The trip also includes one-on-one meetings with congressional delegates, visits to national monuments and meeting other tour delegates from across the nation.
“My favorite thing was being able to meet
and talk to kids who were like me.”
“My favorite thing was being able to meet and talk to kids who were like me,” he said, explaining that many delegates are outstanding leaders in their schools and communities. “I’m still in touch with many of the Georgia people I met on that trip.”
Finding a path
It was the timing of the tour — the first to occur after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — that cemented Hammond’s career path.
“We saw the Pentagon being rebuilt and heard speakers who were there when it was attacked,” he recalled. “I knew from that time that I wanted to help people…I thought broadcasting and journalism could be the way.”
While still a student at Georgia College, Hammond began pursuing his broadcasting dreams by working as a production assistant at a Macon TV station. The station would later give him his first on-air reporting job and then a seat at the news anchor desk. Anchoring stints in Memphis and Denver followed. He joined the News Channel 5 team in February 2018.
Hammond still uses skills and information he gained as a WYT delegate.
“I learned how to network, and that’s a tool I use every single day,” he said.
His knowledge of electric cooperatives has proved useful when reporting on events such as storms and mass power outages.
“Because of youth tour, I know what goes into providing power to the community,” he said.
2020 Washington Youth Tour application deadline: Feb. 7
He also embraces the cooperative principle of caring for the community. An active volunteer, he’s served as a judge for selecting WYT delegates and is a frequent emcee and speaker for cooperative and rural development conferences.
Wherever his work or community service takes him, Hammond said he’s likely to encounter WYT alumni. “They are everywhere! I just found out recently that one of my co-workers at Channel 5 was a youth tour delegate.”
He encourages eligible high school students to seize the opportunity to compete to be a 2020 WYT delegate.
“It’s an experience that can stay with you your whole life,” he said. “When I went, I had no idea I’d still be talking about 17 years later.”
If you’re a high school sophomore or junior living or attending school in Walton EMC’s service area, apply now to be one of four delegates who win an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., as a participant in the 2020 Washington Youth Tour, set for June 18-25. Entry form deadline: Feb. 7.