Opportunities abound for Dalton Schmit
When ECI REC sponsors two high school juniors every year on the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour of Washington, D.C., it is with the hope that their experiences will inspire a lifelong interest in history, politics, and giving back to the community. Dalton Schmit has truly taken this to heart in the years since his participation in the 2012 Youth Tour.
Dalton returned from the trip excited by the up-close experience with politics and history: “It really made me think about what it means to be an American and shows that people my age do care about this country.” The trip made him want to learn more, and in his senior year of high school, Dalton was accepted as a 2013 Iowa General Assembly Legislative Page.
“It was this experience—my first job within the government—that exposed me to true public service,” said Dalton. “State legislators aren’t often debating the merits of the issues you hear about on the national news, but they’re always committed to making life better for Iowans in ways that affect you more intimately. Theyhave a knack for working out their differences to get things done for our state and their constituents.”
In 2014, Dalton was back on the Youth Tour, this time as an organizer. After the trip wrapped up, he extended his stay in D.C. to complete a Congressional Internship with the office of United States Senator Tom Harkin. “Working for Senator Harkin was truly a privilege,” said Dalton. “As a legislator he was one of the hardest working people in town and showed strong commitment to his values and principles. He always found a way to accomplish things within a bitterly divided Congress to benefit Iowans and Americans alike. During his last term in Congress, Senator Harkin had 21 bills signed into law from his Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committee, which amounted to about 10% of all new legislation—an incredible figure for a single senator. All of these bills truly impacted people’s lives, so the experience of getting to work in the senator’s office and meeting his hardworking staff—some of whom stayed with him for decades—was one of the most incredible opportunities I’ve ever had.”
This summer, Dalton interned in D.C. again, this time at the White House in the Office of Scheduling and Advance. “I believe strongly in this President and his administration, so the most rewarding thing for me was just the opportunity to be a small part of his mission and vision,” said Dalton. “It’s amazing to see and experience the positive impact that the government can have for the people if it’s committed to making life better for all Americans.” When the president visited Des Moines this September, Dalton was part of the advance team that coordinated the logistics of the visit. “I was able to get all of my family, a couple close friends, and some Youth Tour folks the opportunity to watch Air Force One land and meet the president. I’m incredibly grateful for all of the experiences that I’ve had, but it’s particularly exciting and touching to give the people who have done so much for me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in return.”
Now a public policy major at the University of Chicago, Dalton hopes to work in public service once he graduates, whether through a nonprofit, a government agency, or as a staffer to an elected official. Dalton credits the Youth Tour and internships with changing his trajectory: “I always thought that I was going to earn a degree in engineering and work in that field after graduation. Prior to going on the trip I had a general understanding of what was going on in the government, but not much beyond that. Youth Tour was the first time that I went to Washington—I was so amazed by all of the things that I saw and all of the people that I met. I was really inspired, not by the idea of politics as usual and the things you hear about on the news, but by public service and the things that can be achieved for Americans when our government is focused on doing good for the people. Youth Tour realigned my interests and the REC folks really helped to continue giving me opportunities after the trip to the point that I see myself working in public service after college.”