Youth to Washington Tour
June 12-19, 2015
The “Youth to Washington” tour gives a few lucky students the chance to get out of their houses and into the White House. Even if they don’t bump into the President, they’ll still have a chance to chat with other key Congressional legislators. Students will spend the week of June 12-19, 2015 visiting historically significant national sites, touring some of our most moving memorials, and browsing the campus of our nation’s capital. During their time in D.C., they will ride a river boat down the Potomac, tour the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, and visit the Supreme Court. And those are just a few of the things we have planned.
How to Apply
Contact your local electric cooperative to find out specific details for participating. You may visit your electric cooperative online by clicking on your cooperative on the right hand side of this page or you can contact John Freitag or Kristin Banks at the AIEC at (217) 241-7924.
Youth Tour Origin
Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson inspired the Youth Tour when he addressed the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) Annual Meeting in Chicago in 1957. The Senator and future president declared, “If one thing goes out of this meeting, it will be sending youngsters to the national capital where they can actually see what the flag stands for and represents.”
Consequently, some Texas electric cooperatives sent groups of young people to Washington to work Senator Johnson’s office during the summer in. In 1958, a rural electric cooperative in Iowa sponsored the first group of 34 young people on a week-long study tour of the nation’s capital. Later that same year, another busload came to Washington from Illinois. The idea grew and other states sent busloads of young people throughout the summer. By 1959, the “Youth Tour” had grown to 130 youths.
In 1964, NRECA began to coordinate joint activities among the state delegations and suggested that co-op representatives from each state arrange to be in Washington, D.C. during Youth Tour week. The first year of the coordinated tour included approximately 400 young people from 12 states. Word of the program has continued to spread and today, more than 1,500 young people and their chaperones participate in the Youth Tour every year.
Who We Are
We’re the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives (AIEC) – a Springfield, Illinois based service organization for the electric and telephone cooperatives in the state. We perform a number of functions — which you can learn about as you explore this website.
In regard to the Youth Tour, the AIEC coordinates the daily planning of all events and sites of interest for the tour. The tour travels via two chartered buses. The summer of 2009 was the 50th year we’ve sent youth to D.C.
Why We Do This
Because we’re nice people.
Okay, there’s more to it than that.
The tour is designed to provide an opportunity for outstanding rural young people (like you) to better understand the value of rural electrification. It familiarizes you with the historic and political environment of our nation’s Capital through first-hand looks at monuments, government buildings, and cooperative organizations.
And the visits with elected officials will give you a better understanding of federal government, the political process, and democracy in general. But perhaps most significantly, the tour gives us an opportunity to recognize the accomplishments of outstanding young people from rural communities.
Bottom line: your electric cooperative feels like educated citizens are better citizens. And better citizens are better co-op members. So while we’re helping you, we’re also helping you to help your local electric cooperative.
Youth Leadership Council
During Youth Tour, you can have the chance to be selected to represent your state on the NRECA Youth Leadership Council (YLC). One student from each state is selected and they will come back to Washington, D.C., in July for a leadership workshop which will focus on the electric cooperative industry.
The purpose of the YLC conference is to build leadership and public speaking skills, and to enhance the delegates’ knowledge of the energy industry and the cooperative form of business. These students will also make presentations at their statewide and local cooperative annual meetings.
Each student will prepare a 5-7 minute speech about what inspired them during their Youth Tour trip. Consult our YouTube channel for examples of prior speeches. Also, the YLC National Spokesperson will be selected to address the membership at the NRECA Annual Meeting and to address the Youth Tour delegates the following year.
Members of the YLC play an important role during NRECA’s Annual Meeting the following spring. Not only are the YLC members recognized on stage, they have a hands-on experience with virtually every facet of the meeting including the resolutions process and helping our members communicate with their legislators.
Youth Leadership Council members leave more poised, confident and a better developed leader with a strong determination to improve your community and make their country a better place. Further, they leave having built life-long friendships with other student leaders from across the country.