Co-op youth urged to commit to communities

IMG_0945Talk about energy! Take 1,660 high school students from across the Co-op Nation, bring them to Washington, D.C. in mid-June and have them talk to their state’s senators and ­representatives. Listening to that conversation will get you energized and excited about our future. This event, sponsored by the electric and telephone cooperatives of Illinois and other co-ops across the country since the late 1950s, is an introduction for rural youth to our democratic form of government and the cooperative ­business model. More than 50,000 young people have participated.

This year’s Illinois Youth to Washington co-op representatives met with Senator Durbin, and Representatives Bost, Bustos, Davis and Shimkus. In this photo they are pictured with Rep. Davis (left) and Rep. Bost (center).

“Youth Tour is a vital opportunity for youth living in co-op service ­territory to visit our nation’s capital and learn about the importance of electric cooperatives,” said NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson. “Our youth are our future leaders, politicians and educators, and the Youth Tour is a strong reminder each year of how bright that future will be.”

The event stresses ­community involvement, particularly in rural America, said Kirk Johnson, NRECA’s senior vice president for government relations.

“Co-ops back home stay engaged with the youth so there are ­ongoing benefits to communities,” said Johnson. “There’s a long-term value proposition for everyone involved.”

The Illinois students joined more than 1,660 young leaders from across the country from 44 states. In ­addition to the Capitol, they also visited Gettysburg, Arlington National Cemetery, the Washington National Cathedral, several Smithsonian Museums, The U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the World War II Memorial, ­memorials to Presidents Lincoln, Jefferson, Washington and Roosevelt, the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, the Newseum and a number of other ­historical sites.

To learn more about the Youth to Washington Tour go to or