Youth Tour 2019

Youth Tour 2019

Eastern Shore Students Experience Washington Youth Tour

From pandas to politicians, high schoolers from electric cooperative service territories in Virginia, Maryland and Delaware got a thorough immersion in Washington, D.C. government, culture and activities during the 2019 Electric Cooperative Youth Tour.

Some 54 students from the three-state area visited monuments, met with their elected officials and staff members, and enjoyed camaraderie among their peers during the annual event, which ran from June 16 to 20.

Matthew Parks, Wynn Neville, Alexa Cobb, McKaley Parks and Robbie Sterling represented A&N Electric Cooperative during the 2019 NRECA Washington Youth Tour.

“We had an exceptional group of young people on this year’s tour,” said Andrew Vehorn, vice president of governmental affairs at the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives and Youth Tour Director.

“They were enthusiastic and energetic, and even though we did our best to tire them out, they enjoyed experiences that will serve them and their cooperative communities well into the future,” Vehorn said.

This year’s delegation from Virginia, Maryland and Delaware consisted of rising juniors and seniors from 12 cooperatives. Earlier this year, each cooperative selected its representatives for the all-expense-paid trip on the basis of applications, essay contests, interviews and supporting materials.

The first day of activities produced a visit to the Jefferson Memorial and a night cruise on the Potomac River.

Students also spent a day exploring the National Mall, visiting the Lincoln Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the African-American History Museum and other attractions. A baseball game between the Washington Nationals and the Philadelphia Phillies was rained out, but youths got a chance to eat at the Nationals ballpark before returning to their hotel.

The tour also visited Arlington National Cemetery, the National Zoo, the Pentagon, as well as Capitol Hill, where senators, representatives and their staffs met constituents who are soon to be of voting age. They also saw a performance of “Hello, Dolly!” at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and swapped state pins with others on the tour.

“It’s a week of doing some of the most fun things you can imagine,” Matthew Parks said. “It’s a great time all around and one of the best weeks you’ll have in your life.”

For many students and chaperones, the tour was a first-time visit to Washington. Others said they had been in Washington before, though they had not packed as much action into one visit.

In all, about 1,800 students from 43 states converged on Washington for the tour, which officially started in 1958 at the suggestion of then-Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson. The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) oversees the tour in the belief that co-op youths should experience the nation’s capital up close and learn about the political process.

“During its time, Youth Tour has brought 50,000 students from rural America to Washington. It has proven to be a tremendous way of exposing our youngest members to the foundations that our country and our cooperative family were built upon,” said Richard G. Johnstone Jr., president and CEO of the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives.

For more information about the Youth Tour Program, visit To learn how you can participate in A&N’s Electric Cooperative Washington Youth Tour opportunity, speak with your high school’s guidance office or contact Patsy Goard at 757-787-9750, ext. 322. The essay contest to determine the cooperative’s 2020 Youth Tour participants will begin in October 2019. Essays can be submitted at your school’s guidance office or uploaded directly to the cooperative’s website at

“It’s such a great opportunity that you could be a part of,” Neville said.

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