Youth Tour

Youth Tour PhotoSIGN-UP FOR YOUTH TOUR 2022!

Youth Tour 2022
June 17-23, 2022

Download the 2022 Youth Tour Application

Apply now for the annual "Youth Tour." Students will have the opportunity to learn about the cooperative business model, interact with state and federal elected officials, hear from special guest speakers, and have the opportunity to win prizes and one of three $5,000 college scholarships! Applicants must be high school juniors and their parents/
guardians must be a member of one of the 17 Electric Cooperatives in Arkansas.

Each year, starting in February, Ouachita Electric Cooperative begins taking applications for the Electric  Cooperative Youth Tour to Washington. We spread the word through Arkansas Living magazine and in the schools. And best of all, Youth Tour alumni tell their friends about this amazing opportunity. 

Arkansas’ electric cooperatives began sponsoring the tour in 1990. Since then, hundreds of young Arkansans have gone on this trip and been inspired by the sites they see. They learn about the sacrifices others have made and what it truly means to be an American. They walk on the grounds where George  Washington walked. They walk the halls of the U.S. Capitol where the nation’s laws are crafted. They make new friends and dream new dreams. Many students  believe it will be too hard to win this trip, or that it will take too much effort to write an essay or sit for an interview. Some are encouraged to apply by their teachers while others learn about it from their parents or grandparents who see the promotion in this magazine. Many say they almost didn’t try. But ask any past Youth Tour winner and they will inevitably say they are glad they did. It truly is a trip of a lifetime. 

During the tour, the group visits historic sites such as Mount Vernon, the World War II Memorial, the U.S. Capitol, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, the various museums of the Smithsonian Institution, and Arlington National Cemetery, among other sites. The Arkansas group also meets students from 44 other states who are visiting Washington as part of the tour.

Electric cooperatives from these states sponsor students just as we do. In addition, one student will be selected from each state to serve on the Youth Leadership Council (YLC) sponsored by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), which represents electric cooperatives across the nation and coordinates the Youth Tour. 

By sponsoring the Youth Tour, Ouachita Electric Cooperative is providing opportunities to help our youth grow and learn. By doing this, we are working to fulfill one of the “Seven Cooperative Principles” that guide our member-owned business – commitment to community. Just as we help build the state by providing affordable and reliable energy, we are working to help build leaders for tomorrow. And we believe that is a very good commitment and investment to make.

Photo of the capitol buildingYouth Tour 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 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." 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 weeklong study tour of the 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 youths.

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 1,300 young people and their chaperones participate in the Youth Tour every year.

The statewide Youth Tour directors 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 activities coordinated by NRECA.

Ouachita Electric has sponsored youth from our service area for many years. Students compete for the opportunity to participate by submitting an essay. Watch for details in the Rural Arkansas magazine for future Rural Electric Youth Tours.

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