June 14-21, 2024

Each year the Illinois Electric and Telephone Cooperatives sponsor sophomore, junior and seniors from across Illinois to travel to Washington D.C. for a week long trip. The cooperatives send approximately 65 students on an all expense paid trip. Fifteen students can attend the trip as a Willie Wiredhand Participant (Willie), by securing financing on their own.

Youth Day previews the Youth to Washington Tour. Early spring the AIEC will host the annual Youth Day event. Youth Day will take place on March 20, 2024, this year. Each year around 260 students attend the daylong trip to Springfield where they meet with their State legislative leaders, tour the Old State Capital and explore the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. For more information and your local cooperatives contact click here.

Attending as a Willie for the 2024 trip the cost will be $2,500. This includes all travel, lodging and meals for the entire trip. The only additional money a participant would need is if they wished to buy souvenirs. If you are interested in getting a letter to present to clubs, explaining the trip, please contact Brooke Gross at 217-241-7954 or send an email to bgross@aiec.coop.

We encourage Willie participants to engage their communities for sponsors. Below is a general list of common community organizations that a participant can seek out for sponsorship:

  • Church
  • Civic Organizations (Elks Club, Rotary Club, Lions Club, Knights of Columbus)
  • Local Banks and Businesses
  • Local Colleges/Universities
  • Governmental Offices (School Board, Township, County)
  • Business Groups (Chamber of Commerce and Regional economic development groups)
  • Booster Clubs
  • Farm Organizations (Farm Bureau, 4-H Groups, FFA)

By attending as a Willie, the student can still participate on the nominating committee, a board position, or manager of the cooperative that is formed on the trip.  However, a Willie participant can not apply for the Youth Leadership Council position.

To see a comprehensive video of the trip, produced by Trevor Sandidge who participated as a Willie in the summer of 2016, please click here.

For a more detailed look at the Youth Programs click here.