The Oklahoma Rural Electric Washington Youth Tour is an annual, weeklong, all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., that is open to select high school students who attend schools served by electric cooperatives. Twenty-five of Oklahoma's electric cooperatives participate in the Washington Youth Tour. Nationwide, electric co-ops from 41 states participate. In all, more than 1,300 young people from across the nation gather in Washington, D.C., each year for this event. The tour is coordinated by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) and the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives (OAEC). Local electric cooperatives sponsor contests to select students who will represent their service area as well as the entire state of Oklahoma during the Youth Tour trip.
During the Youth Tour, students follow state-planned itineraries, which include a day on Capitol Hill observing the House and Senate in session, and a breakfast with their states’ Congressional delegations. Also conducted is a series of educational seminars to help students learn more about cooperatives. These seminars are conducted by NRECA staff members, state coordinators and past Youth Tour participants.
Oklahoma's electric co-ops send students to Washington for a number of reasons, including:
• To reward students for academic achievement and community leadership
• To educate students about the role of electric co-ops in the national economy
• To foster students' appreciation for the democratic form of government
• To expose students to the sights and sounds of our nation's heritage
• To build students' leadership skills so that they may make a difference in their communities.