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In 1957, Sen. Lyndon Baines Johnson inspired the Youth Tour when he addressed the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) Annual Meeting in Chicago. 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.”

That summer, a few Texas electric cooperatives sent groups of young people to Washington to work in Sen. Johnson’s office. In 1958, a rural electric cooperative in Iowa took the idea one step further and sponsored the first group of 34 young people on a week-long study tour of our nation’s capital; this trip became the prototype for the Youth Tour. 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 a Youth Tour week. The first year of the coordinated tour included approximately 400 young people from 12 states. Since then, the reach of the program has spread across the country to include more than 1,800 students who participate in the Youth Tour every year.

This participants on Iowa's 60-Anniversary Youth Tour this June 8-14 will travel to Washington, D.C., and meet their U.S. representatives and senators – and watch history come alive as they explore museums, memorials and monuments. They’ll also meet student leaders from nearly every state and hear dynamic speakers during Youth Day. Best of all, students will have a lot of fun, make friendships that last a lifetime and become part of a group that has more than 50,000 alumni in every walk of life, including U.S. senators and CEOs.

Right now, Iowa’s local electric cooperatives are selecting their winners from high school sophomores, juniors and seniors in their areas who applied to win an all-expenses-paid trip to the nation's capital. Unfortunately, not every student who applied can be a winner. So, it’s also time for students to enter the magazine’s Youth Tour Contest. It’s also time for students whose co-ops aren’t sponsoring a trip to enter the contest.


High school sophomores, juniors and seniors: Here are two good reasons you should enter this contest

1. Unfortunately, there always are more qualified student candidates at participating co-ops than can be chosen as Youth Tour winners. So, after you apply at your electric co-op, double your chances of winning an all-expenses-paid trip by entering our 2018 Youth Tour Contest.

2. If you’re a deserving student from a local Iowa electric cooperative that’s not participating in the Youth Tour program this year (see the list below), you still can win an all-expenses-paid trip in our 2018 Youth Tour Contest. Check the Official Rules and Entry Form!


These electric cooperatives are sponsoring the 2018 Youth Tour

All of the electric co-ops on this list are offering one or more all-expenses-paid Youth Tour trips this year, so check your co-op’s website or call the office for more details. If you don’t know how to reach your co-op, click Go to My Co-op in the green menu bar at the top of this page.

  • Access Energy Cooperative
  • Allamakee-Clayton Electric Cooperative
  • Butler County REC
  • Calhoun County REC
  • Chariton Valley Electric Cooperative, Inc.
  • Clarke Electric Cooperative, Inc.
  • Consumers Energy
  • East-Central Iowa REC
  • Farmers Electric Cooperative (Greenfield)
  • Franklin REC
  • Harrison County REC
  • Heartland Power Cooperative
  • Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative
  • Lyon REC
  • Midland Power Cooperative
  • MiEnergy Cooperative
  • Nishnabotna Valley REC
  • North West REC
  • Pella Cooperative Electric Association
  • Prairie Energy Cooperative
  • Raccoon Valley Electric Cooperative
  • Southern Iowa Electric Cooperative, Inc.
  • Southwest Iowa REC
  • T.I.P. REC


Here are the Official Contest Rules

The 2018 Youth Tour Contest is open to any high school sophomore, junior or senior who’s part of a member family of an Iowa electric co-op that’s a member of the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives (IAEC). One all-expenses-paid trip will be awarded by Living with Energy in Iowa magazine, in addition to the trips sponsored by local electric cooperatives.

Of course, students at supporting co-ops first should apply for the Youth Tour through their electric co-ops. Then, to enhance your chances of earning a trip, we encourage you to enter this contest too. If you’re chosen as the winner of a trip sponsored by your local electric cooperative, you’ll become ineligible to win the trip sponsored by Living with Energy in Iowa magazine.

Entry forms for the Living with Energy in Iowa Youth Tour Contest are available here and the IAEC Youth Tour website ( To enter, you will be required to submit an official entry form plus a short (250-word maximum) essay in response to this question: How does your local electric cooperative impact your community? Entry materials must be submitted electronically to or mailed with a postmark no later than April 5, 2018.

Living with Energy in Iowa magazine and IAEC staff will judge all essays anonymously, without prior knowledge of the entrants’ names or electric cooperatives. The decision of the judges will be final. The winner of the Living with Energy in Iowa Youth Tour Contest will not be announced until April 15, 2018, which is after all sponsoring local electric cooperatives will have chosen their 2018 Youth Tour participants.  

 Enter the 2018 Youth Tour Contest. 


Here’s the Itinerary for the 2018 Youth Tour

Thursday, June 7

  • Orientation – Ramada Des Moines Airport, 1810 Army Post Road
  • Icebreaker Games
  • Create Iowa Youth Tour Snack Cooperative

Friday, June 8

  • Fly to Washington, D.C.
  • Driving tour of Washington, D.C.
  • White House – Let’s get that iconic photo!
  • American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial
  • Paddle Boats – Tidal Basin
  • The United States Air Force Memorial

Saturday, June 9

  • National Museum of the Marine Corps
  • The United States Navy Memorial
  • National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial
  • Washington Monument
  • World War II Memorial
  • Thomas Jefferson Memorial
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
  • Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial
  • Union Station
  • Youth Leadership Council Interviews

  • Snack Cooperative Open

Sunday, June 10

  • Ford’s Theatre
  • Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
  • Mount Vernon
  • National Harbor
  • Dinner Cruise
  • Snack Cooperative Open

Monday, June 11

  • Albert Einstein Memorial
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  • Lincoln Memorial
  • Korean War Veterans Memorial
  • The National Mall
  • Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
  • Arts and Industry Building
  • Freer Gallery of Art
  • Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
  • National Air and Space Museum
  • National Archives Building
  • National Gallery of Art
  • National Museum of African American History and Culture
  • National Museum of African Art
  • National Museum of American History
  • National Museum of Natural History
  • National Museum of the American Indian
  • Smithsonian Castle
  • U.S. Botanic Garden
  • United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • Rural Electric Youth Day

Tuesday, June 12

  • Snack Cooperative Board Meeting
  • Washington National Cathedral
  • World Bank Group Visitor Center
  • Arlington National Cemetery
  • Kennedy Gravesites
  • Tomb of the Unknowns, Changing of the Guard
  • Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial
  • Lay a wreath at Tomb of the Unknowns
  • Ben’s Chili Bowl
  • Iwo Jima Sunset Parade
  • Snack Cooperative Open
  • Pentagon 911 Memorial

Wednesday, June 13

  • Optional 3-mile run with Sen. Grassley
  • Meet with Iowa’s members of Congress
  • Tour the U.S. Capitol
  • Visit Supreme Court or Library of Congress
  • Newseum
  • All-States Farewell Dinner and Dance
  • Snack Cooperative Annual Meeting

Thursday, June 14                           

  • Fly back to Iowa
(Subject to change)


How would you like to run a snack cooperative?

This year’s Youth Tour participants will get an inside look at how a cooperative works by starting and operating the Iowa Youth Tour Snack Cooperative. This educational and practical project will provide snacks at discount prices for Youth Tour participants and teach everyone about starting and operating a cooperative – and being a co-op “member-owner.”

The snack cooperative will have bylaws, board meetings and the full functionality of a regular co-op. Students will apply for a position within the cooperative, including board nominating committee, directors and manager.

At the conclusion of Youth Tour, the co-op board and manager will hold an “annual meeting” and report to the members on the co-op’s operations during the week in the nation’s capital. The board will then move to officially dissolve the co-op. If there are any “margins,” or funds remaining after operations are closed, the board will determine a method of returning these margins to the members through a form of capital credits. 


An Iowa student will earn a $1,000 college scholarship too!

During the 2018 Youth Tour this June, a student from each participating state will be chosen to serve on the national Youth Leadership Council (YLC). Those students will return to Washington, D.C., in July 2018 to participate in leadership training and will be invited to attend the 2018 annual meeting of the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives in Des Moines and the 2019 annual meeting of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association in Orlando.

As a bonus, the student chosen from Iowa will receive a $1,000 college scholarship! This year, the Iowa Youth Tour director and chaperones will interview Iowa’s YLC candidates on Saturday, June 9, during the Youth Tour.

 Enter the 2018 Youth Tour Contest. 

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