Youth Tour Goes Virtual, Students Enter to Win $5,000 Scholarships for Service Projects
1 Jul 2021
Each year the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas sends a group of over 40 rising seniors to Washington, D.C. as part of NRECA’s Youth Tour. The tour was founded when then Senator Lyndon B. Johnson, D-Texas, urged directors and staff of the nation’s electric cooperatives to bring young people to Washington to get a first-hand look at how government works. “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,” Johnson said at the annual meeting of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas have sent students to D.C. annually since 1990.
“The Youth Tour educates young people about the rural electric program and a lot of them will go on to become leaders in the community,” said Alton Higginbotham, former president and chief executive officer of First Electric Cooperative Corporation. “In fact, many Youth Tour participants now serve in state legislatures and Congress.
Youth Tour 2021
During NRECA’s Youth Tour students learn about U.S. history up close, meet with members of Congress, experience art and cultural amenities, and learn about the cooperative business model.
Students are selected by each cooperative through either essay contests or interviews. JD Lowery, Manager of Community and Economic Development for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, has been taking students for the past three years.
The cooperatives hosted a virtual Youth Tour this year due to the uncertainty of COVID-19 restrictions in Washington, D.C. The event was held from June 18th - 24th with a focus on public service. Students learned about the cooperative business model, heard from lawmakers on Capitol Hill and the Arkansas State Capitol, heard from business and community leaders, and even the head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks football team, Sam Pittman. After attending, students have the opportunity to plan and execute a service project in their community. “We had 26 students tuning in for two hours each day and were impressed by their engagement and participation. They represent some of the best and brightest students in our state. Everyone looks forward to reviewing their service project ideas. We will award $5,000 scholarships to three projects selected by our judges to help students make a positive impact in their communities,” said Lowery.