The Washington Youth Tour was created from extemporaneous comments made by then-Senator Lyndon Johnson as he addressed the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Annual Meeting in Chicago in 1957. “If one thing goes out of this meeting,” the Senator declared, “I hope it will be sending youngsters to the national capital where they can actually see what the flag stands for and represents.” Beginning that year, some of the Texas Electric Cooperatives sent groups of young people to Washington, D.C. to work during the summer in Senator Johnson’s office to learn about government in action.

The next year, 1958, rural electric association officials in Iowa sponsored the first group of 34 young people on a week-long study tour of the nation’s capital as a direct outgrowth of the Senator’s personal suggestion at the Chicago meeting. Later that same year, another busload of young people came to Washington, D.C. from Illinois. Each succeeding summer, other states in increasing numbers sent young people to tour Washington, D.C. By 1959, the number had grown to 130 youth as the importance of the idea began to be better recognized.

In 1964, NRECA began to coordinate the program suggesting that the groups arrange their schedules to be on tour the same week. During the first year of the coordinated tour there were about 400 young people from 12 states. Since that time, the Youth Tour has continued to grow and for the next 25 years almost 1,000 young people and chaperones participated in the tour each year. On the 25th anniversary of the Youth Tour, the number of participants exceeded 1,000 and as a result, the Youth Tour has been split into two, week-long sessions. Last year, over 100 Georgia students joined more than 2000 other young people from across the nation.


To educate youth on all aspects of rural electrification in order to promote a better understanding of the value of rural electric cooperatives.

To provide an opportunity for youth to visit monuments, government buildings and cooperative-related organizations in order to become familiar with the historical and political environment of our nation’s capital.

To provide an opportunity for our youth to meet elected officials in order to better understand how our federal government works.

For more information about the Washington Youth Tour contact Suzanne Saunders at 877-533-3377 ext. 5055 or email at [email protected].