Ben Hyland of Vinton and Rachel Wheelock of Rowley, sponsored by ECI REC, recently participated in the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour program in Washington, D.C. They spent six days in the capital with 32 peers from Iowa.
Each year in June, an action-filled week provides high school students opportunities to learn first-hand what it is like to be involved in politics, community service, and today’s pressing issues in the energy industry. This year, students met their elected representatives in the U.S. House and Senate, saw historic sites, and met nearly 1,600 students from across the country who participated in their states’ Youth Tour programs.
The Electric Cooperative Youth Tour has been a joint effort of local electric co-ops, such as East-Central Iowa REC, statewide co-op associations, and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), based in Arlington, Virginia, for 48 years.
Both Hyland and Wheelock said they had the experience of a lifetime meeting with peers from other states and NRECA staff during the Washington trip.
“The Youth Tour was so amazing,” Hyland said. “It was really cool to meet my senator and representative, and learn about politics up close.”
“I made friends from nearly every state and experienced history first-hand," Wheelock said. “It really made me think about what it means to be an American, and shows that people my age do care about this country.”
In addition to taking in the sights of the nation’s capital, all the state groups convened for National Youth Day, sponsored by NRECA, to learn from public figures and other inspirational speakers. This year’s Youth Day agenda included Mike Schlappi, a four-time Paralympic Medalist and two-time Wheelchair Basketball World Champion. Schlappi shared his inspiring message for every American, young or old: “Just because you can’t stand up, doesn’t mean you can’t stand out.”
For more information on how you can participate in East-Central Iowa REC’s Youth Tour program, contact us toll-free at 877-850-4343 or visit www.ecirec.coop.
Since 1964, the nation’s cooperative electric utilities have sponsored more than 50,000 high school juniors and seniors for visits to their U.S. congressional delegations, energy and grassroots government education sessions, and sightseeing in Washington. NRECA is the national service organization representing the nation’s more than 900 consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives, which provide electric service to 42 million people in 47 states.
For more information about the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour Program, please visit www.youthtour.coop.