East Texas Delegates with Congressman Louie Gohmert
July 10, 2018 - For high school students who grow up in rural Texas, visiting a place like Washington, D.C., might sound like a far-away dream. But every year, more than 100 such students are given the opportunity to travel to the capital for an intensive weeklong tour. June 6th – 14th, Texas students representing their respective electric cooperatives had this opportunity to join more than 1,600 other students from around the nation for the 2018 Electric Cooperative Government-In-Action Youth Tour. Delegates representing Deep East Texas Electric Cooperative were Anna Bardwell of Tenaha and Conner Downs of Broaddus.
In Washington, tour participants get to see with their own eyes sights they may have only experienced in history books or on television. Texas' students also have the chance to participate in the wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, Tour Mt. Vernon, visit the Holocaust and Smithsonian Museums, take a midnight tour with Congressman Louie Gohmert, watch a show at the Kennedy Center and much more.
In addition to visiting monuments, museums and historical sites that would be a part of any standard tour of the capital, the students also fulfilled the ambition of then-U.S. Sen. Lyndon Johnson, who inspired the Youth Tour with his desire expressed in 1957 for young people to "actually see what the flag stands for and represents," when he addressed the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Annual Meeting in Chicago. Consequently, some Texas electric cooperatives sent groups of young people to Washington, D.C., to work during the summer in Sen. Johnson’s office. In 1958, an electric cooperative in Iowa sponsored the first group of 34 young people on a week-long study tour of the nation’s capital. Later that same year, another bus load came 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 delegates.
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 young people and their chaperones from 45 states participate in the Youth Tour every year.
For more information about the Youth Tour, contact the Cooperative at 936-229-3907.