Youth Tour Gives Students a Close-up View of the Nation's Capital
In 1957, then Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson, D-Texas, urged directors and
staff of the nation's electric cooperatives to bring young people to
Washington to get a first-hand look at how government works.
"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,'' Johnson said at the annual meeting of
the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA).
In Johnson's home state, the electric cooperatives heeded his call
by sending groups of young people to Washington to work during the
summer in Johnson's office. In 1958, a rural electric cooperative in
Iowa sponsored a week-long tour of the nation's capital for a group of
34 students. Later that same year, another busload came to Washington
from Illinois. The idea soon caught on and other states began sending
groups of young people to Washington throughout the summer. By 1959,
the Youth Tour comprised 130 students.
In 1964, NRECA began to coordinate joint activities among the state
delegations and suggested that cooperative representatives from each
state arrange to be in Washington during Youth Tour week. During the
first year of the coordinated tour, cooperatives from 12 states sent
about 400 young people to participate. Word of the program has
continued to spread. Today, more than 1,600 young people and their
chaperones attend the Youth Tour every year where we celebrated 50 Years of Youth Tour.
Congressman Boustany with Congressman Boustany with Congressman McAllister with Congressman Scalise with Congressman Fleming with winner from Beauregard Electric winners from Jeff-Davis Electric with winners from ALEC, winners from SLECA ALEC winners Northeast and W.S.T.
Congressman Fleming with Beauregard and Claiborne winners Congressman Cassidy with DEMCO winners
Congressman Cassidy speaking to Congressman Richmond with students on Capitol Hill winners from Pointe Coupee
Congressman Cassidy with Pointe Coupee winners
Washington Youth Tour
What is the Washington Youth Tour?
The Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives Washington Youth
Tour is an annual, weeklong, all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC,
that is open to high school students across Louisiana. This all-expense paid trip is worth $2,000.
Nine of Louisiana's 12 electric cooperatives participate in the Youth
Tour Program. Each electric cooperative has a unique method of selecting the
student or students they will sponsor. ALEC will sponsor four students
statewide from 4-H. The 4-H Agents
will have application forms in December. You can also find these forms on the Louisiana 4-H website. Nationwide, electric co-ops from 45 states
participate in this event. In all, more than 1,500 young people from
across the nation gather in Washington each year.
Louisiana's electric cooperatives send students to Washington for a number of reasons, including
Rewarding students for academic achievement through a writing contest;
Educating students about the role of electric co-ops in the national economy;
Fostering students' appreciation for the democratic form of government;
Exposing students to the sights and sounds of our nation's heritage; and
Building students' leadership skills so that they may make a difference in their communities.
Student may apply to be Louisiana's representative to the National
Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) Youth Leadership Council
(YLC). The YLC is composed of one representative from each of the 45
states that participate in the Youth Tour. YLC members have the
opportunity for additional free travel and leadership training.
Group at the Natural Bridge in Va. Group on Capitol Hill Welcome back home to Baton Rouge
National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) Youth Leadership Conference
July 18 - 22, 2015-- Arlington, VA
Taylor Hayes, Louisiana's 2014-2015 Representative
on the NRECA Youth Leadership Council
At this workshop, all 45 YLC representatives will have the
opportunity to hone their public speaking skills, develop their
leadership skills, and enhance their understanding of politics. Group
recreational activities will also be provided.
Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperative Annual Meeting in Baton Rouge at the Hilton Capitol Center the Louisiana's YLC representative will deliver a brief (5-7 minutes)
speech about his or her experiences in Washington, DC, at this meeting
of electric cooperative leaders from across Louisiana.
The 2014-2015 YLC representative is Miss Taylor Hayes, who was sponsored by Northeast Louisiana Power Cooperative, Winnsboro, Louisiana. She will attend an all-expensed paid trip to the NRECA Annual Meeting from February 21-25, 2015 in Orlando, Florida.
All 45 YLC representatives will assist the NRECA staff with the
conduct of the NRECA annual meeting. YLC responsibilities at this four-day meeting will include participating in the meeting's opening
assembly by carrying our Louisiana State Flag, staffing information booths, learning about energy issues,
and assisting with committee meetings. Group recreational activities
will also be provided.
Who sponsors WYT?
The Washington Youth Tour is sponsored by the National Rural
Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), the Association of Louisiana
Electric Cooperative (ALEC), and most of the Louisiana's electric
How do I Apply?
If you are a high school student, contact your local Electric Membership Cooperative for
eligibility requirements. If you are a 4-H or FFA participant, you can
also apply for the youth tour trip through the statewide contest. Contact
your 4-H Agent or FFA Advisor for the application forms. You do
not need to be a member of an electric cooperative to apply through the
If you want to know whether or not you're eligible for this trip or
if you need information about procedures and deadlines, your best bet
is to contact the Washington Youth Tour coordinator at your local
If, however, your question is of a more general nature, please feel
free to contact us at the Association of Louisiana Electric
Cooperative. If you prefer you may also contact us by phone at 225-293-3450 or
800-355-3450 ext. 18, e-mail: Joni Kitchen at firstname.lastname@example.org
The 2015 Youth Tour Leadership Conference will be MARCH 23-25, 2015 The Leadership Conference will be held
at the Holiday Inn in Baton Rouge, Monday, MARCH 23 to Wednesday, MARCH 25. Winners of each La. Electric Co-ops Youth Tour Contest will
come to Baton Rouge to meet the other winners for the first time and they will learn more about the Louisiana Electric Cooperatives.
They will also visit the La. State Capital and their legislators then
tour the NRG/La. Generating Power Plant in New Roads. We will have
educational training on the electric cooperatives; fun and games; and go
over the itinerary for the trip in June.
The 2015 Washington Youth Tour trip will be June 12-19, 2015
this year's tour will be announced by March 13, 2015. Students will
arrive in Baton Rouge on Friday, June 12 for orientation and leave early
the next morning for a week long journey that they will remember for
the rest of your lives. You could join 28 Louisiana participants and
more than 1,500 students
from 45 states all expenses paid for one incredible week in our
nation's capital. A fast-paced, up-close, once-in-a-lifetime
opportunity to see with your own eyes the sites and people at the
center of our government.
Barrios, Sabine Parish - Sponsored
by ALEC on the 2009 Youth Tour through the 4-H Contest
D.C.- What an amazing place! It would be great to tour this amazing city by
yourself, but I had so much more fun touring it with about 30 of my closest
friends! That’s what the Rural Electric Youth Tour trip gave to me- a once in a
lifetime experience, new friends, and awesome memories.
from a small town in Northwest Louisiana, I always aspired to travel to far
away places. After writing an essay and winning a trip to D.C., I was so
excited. I was literally jumping up and down with anticipation for my journey
to begin. When it finally did, I could not have asked for a more wonderful
time. I remember walking through the Capitol Building thinking, ‘Wow. This is
the same hallway where my forefathers walked…where laws were passed…where history
was made.’ Needless to say, all throughout the trip I had moments like these. I
would go from laughing with my friends to quietly reflecting. When we went to
Arlington Cemetery, I had a major reflection moment at the Tomb of the Unknown
Soldier. It was truly a moving experience to watch the changing of the guard.
of the experiences from the trip were made a thousand times better by having my
friends with me. However, the teens I traveled with were not always my friends;
at first, we were complete strangers! At a pre-trip meeting in Baton Rouge we
sort of got to know each other, but we truly bonded after spending many hours
together on a bus while traveling to D.C. I was a little nervous about the bus
ride, especially since I didn’t really know anyone. By the end of the week,
though, I had so many best friends. Since the end of the trip, we’ve still kept
in contact, and even hang out. Making new friends on this trip was a great
the combination of a great location and great people, we were destined to have
great times! And we had a lot of them! From singing about our bus, to dancing
the night away on a cruise ship, I brought home better memories than souvenirs.
My all-time favorite memory from the trip was a quiet one, though. I remember standing
at the foot of the Iwo Jima memorial and watching the Marine Corp Band
practicing on the lawn. Sitting there with my friends, everyone amazed at the
beautiful precision and pride of the military, I thought about the great nation
that I belong to, the freedoms that I have, and the gift I had been given to
sit in the midst of where it all began. The Rural Electric Youth Tour trip was
more than a trip to me; it was a pilgrimage to the governmental seat of our
nation. I’ll always remember my friends, the sights we saw, and the tears that
came to my eyes when I realized the historical significance ofwhere I was.
Jamie O’Neal, New Roads, LA - Sponsored by Pointe
Coupee Electric, Youth Tour 2002,
Youth Leadership Council 2003,
NRECA Youth Tour Staffer 2006-2007
Presently Dr. James W. "Jamie O'Neal, IV is a Junior Surgical Resident at East Tennessee State University
is great to be part of something larger than yourself, but to be part of
something larger than yourself and turn it into something that is your own is
truly special. This is exactly my experience with the electric cooperatives.
Starting off with my small hometown co-op I was fortunate enough to be selected
to represent them and my state in Washington D.C. on the NRECA annual Youth
Tour. At this Youth Tour I was introduced to the world of electric co-ops and
learned their impact on our rural communities and our country. From the Youth
Tour I was blessed once again and was chosen to represent my state on the Youth
Leadership Council (YLC). If the Youth Tour wasn’t already enough, the YLC went
above and beyond any expectations that I could have held. From my participation
in the YLC, I was later selected to come back and assist the program for a
couple of years as one of the staff. In all of these many experiences, I was
able to see much of our beautiful country and experience history first-hand in
our nation’s capital. Not only that, but I made many rich and lasting
friendships that I value greatly.
time with the electric co-ops was an important part of my life which opened
many doors. The most significant early on was an internship on Capitol Hill one
summer during college. All of these experiences stemmed from that one essay
contest in my hometown and blossomed into years of wonderful experiences and a
lifetime of friends and memories. All in all, the electric cooperatives granted
me a life-changing experience for which I am forever grateful. It opened my
eyes to the world and piqued my interests in travel, politics, and the concern
for helping others who might otherwise not have been helped. I have traveled to
several different countries including Egypt, Italy, France, and England among
others and am now in my second year of medical school. Without the co-ops and
the opportunities they afforded me, I’m not sure where I would be today.
Danny Bosch, Franklinton, LA, Sponsored by Washington-St. Tammany Electric, Youth Tour 2010,
Youth Leadership Conference Presenter 2012-2013-2014, Jefferson Parish Legislative Delegation Aide
I have never forgotten the trip, the amazing people I met there, or the impact that I have felt since that time. I think that this trip is different from others like it because it educates Louisiana's youth on the vital importance of the electric cooperatives that serve them. They are an essential asset to life in rural Louisiana. I think that this trip is a vital service that our electric cooperatives take the time and money to provide in order to educate our youths about this essential part of our society. Without organizations such as ALEC, WSTE, Pointe Coupee Electric, or any of the other hundreds of electric cooperatives that are not only in Louisiana, but across the country, rural America would be nowhere. I am very glad I was fortunate enough to have this life changing experience and learn what it means to be served by a cooperative.