Every year CMEC sponsors delegates to the annual Youth Tour to Washington, D.C. The high school juniors represent our cooperative on a tour of the nation’s capital. They tour museums, visit America’s most cherished monuments, and meet their elected officials. During the entire trip, they are learning about electric cooperatives and their role in the community. If you are a high school junior, you may qualify to participate in the Youth Tour Program. For students to be eligible, they must attend school in the cooperative's coverage area. To be considered as a delegate, submit your application to the cooperative.
Origins and History
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 comes 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 during the summer in Senator Johnson’s office. In 1958, a rural electric cooperative in Iowa sponsored the first group of 34 young people on a week-long study tour of our 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 students.
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 students and over 250 chaperones participate in the Youth Tour every year.
Youth Tour directors from each state association arrange their delegation’s visits to their U.S. representatives’ and senators’ offices, federal agencies and other educational and sightseeing activities. In addition to the planned statewide activities, the Youth Tour experience encompasses multi-state coordinated by NRECA.