Youth Tour

Olivia Velasquez says her experience on Youth Tour helped set her apart as she applied to college.

Every June, electric cooperatives from around Ohio and across the nation sponsor high school sophomores and juniors on a trip to Washington, D.C., where the students learn about the cooperative business model, visit Capitol Hill to meet with legislative leaders, and explore the rich history of th


The Youth Tour was a pivotal experience during my transition from high school to college. Growing up in a tiny Ohio village, attending even tinier Pandora-Gilboa High School, I attended Youth Tour in 2013. After high school, I pursued my education at Harvard University, and I am currently studying at the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine.

Youth Tour chaperone with group of students

When Ohio’s electric cooperatives send about 40 high school students on a weeklong Youth Tour trip to Washington, D.C., each year, it’s often a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the students to not only tour the nation’s capital from a perspective that not all visitors are

Missy Kidwell, senior service specialist at Consolidated Cooperative in Mount Gilead, is assistant director of Ohio’s Youth Tour program. She had been involved in the process of selecting students to attend the trip for several years before she decided to attend as a chaperone. “Being able to see these students start out as strangers but then cultivate a lifelong friendship by the end of the week was pretty amazing,” she says. “I always knew it was an important experience, but didn’t realize exactly how special it was until I saw it in person.”

Kyle Hicks sat at his computer at his Lancaster-area home, the homework assignment for his College Credit Plus course due in a few hours. He knew he was cutting it close.

Like a vast number of people in rural areas of Ohio and the rest of the nation, Hicks and his family have limited access to high-speed internet. The one company that provides broadband service where he lives promises connection speeds “up to 5 megabits per second,” but he says tests on the line show it’s rarely above 1 Mbps. What’s more, service in his area, even at that level, is expensive.

Satellite broadband could be an option but costs even more.

Youth Tour is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for high school sophomores and juniors from electric cooperative families. Every year, more than 1,800 delegates from across the country meet in the nation’s capital to learn about public service, our nation’s rich history, and the electric cooperative story.

Who better to tell the Youth Tour story than the delegates themselves? We asked our alumni from this past summer’s trip a simple question: How did Youth Tour change you?
Here’s a sampling of what they had to say.

Students on the 1983 Ohio Youth Tour rest on the Capitol steps.

For 38 years, the Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives Youth Tour to Washington, D.C., has given high school students a unique perspective on our nation’s capital and the electric cooperative world.

It is a fundamentally different experience than any other youth trip to D.C. It is a more personal, more engaging, and more rewarding experience — one where participants can meet new people from around the state and the country while broadening their knowledge of our government institutions.