Seventy-five Illinois students recently returned from the annual “Youth to Washington” Tour, held June 13-20. This event, sponsored by the electric and telephone cooperatives of Illinois since the late 1950s, is an introduction to our democratic form of government and cooperatives for rural youth.
This year Illinois celebrated it’s 55th year of the tour. NRECA’s Youth Tour turned fifty.
The annual event continues a tradition that began following a speech by then-Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson, D-Texas, at the 1957 National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s (NRECA) Annual Meeting in Chicago. The future president urged electric cooperatives to send their young people to the nation’s capital to remind members of Congress that electric co-ops are more than just poles and wires, they are people.
On this special anniversary of the tour, students met with their Congressional representatives and joined more than 1,644 young leaders from across the country — a number topping any previous tour. In addition to the Capitol, they also visited Arlington National Cemetery, the Washington National Cathedral, several Smithsonian Museums, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the World War II Memorial, memorials to Presidents Lincoln, Jefferson, Washington and Roosevelt, the National Archives, the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, the Newseum and a number of other historical sites.
During the trip, Wyatt Reid, from Rock Energy, was chosen by his peers to represent Illinois on the Youth Leadership Council (YLC) of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. The YLC is a year-long appointment and Reid will represent all Illinois cooperatives at national and state meetings and events in the year ahead.
“The Youth Tour is the highlight of the summer for many students, and for some a life-changing trip,” said Kristin Banks, Coordinator of Youth Programs for the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives. “These students gain a first-hand understanding of the legislative process and make connections with others from across the country and state that will last a lifetime. Our youth are our future, and we need to give them these learning experiences.”
For more information about the Youth to Washington Tour and more pictures go to www.aiec.coop and click on Youth at the top of the page.