SDCEA Selects Cody Norton for a Trip of a Lifetime: Washington D.C Youth Tour

Cody Norton

Cody Norton of Buena Vista has earned a trip of a lifetime. In June, he will participate in the 2023 National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) Youth Tour in Washington, D.C., sponsored by Sangre de Cristo Electric Association (SDCEA).

Norton, a student at Buena Vista High School, will represent his school, community and SDCEA on the tour.

He will join about 30 other students who represent electric cooperatives from around Colorado. Selected students begin the tour in Denver where they learn about Colorado’s state government and Colorado’s electric cooperatives.

From Denver, they’ll fly to Washington, D.C., to attend educational seminars and visit with their representatives in the House and the Senate. Students also visit historic sites in Washington, D.C., including the Lincoln Memorial, Mount Vernon, Arlington Cemetery and the Smithsonian, to name a few.

Every June, more than 1,800 high school students from towns and small cities in rural America spend one week in Washington, D.C., as part of the National Rural Electric Youth Tour. The students are sponsored by electric cooperatives — cooperatives that are committed to educating America’s rural youth about America and the role electric cooperatives play in developing strong rural communities.

Students who participate on the tour learn about electric cooperatives, American history and the U.S. government. The Colorado Rural Electric Association and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association organize the educational programs.

Participating in the Youth Tour is a great way for students to learn about our nation, develop leadership skills, gain a better understanding of electric cooperatives and make friends with people from across the state and country.

This is an all-expenses-paid trip and students are chosen to attend based on their application and an essay on why they would be a good candidate for the experience.

Youth Tour Background

Senator Lyndon Johnson inspired the Youth Tour when he addressed the NRECA Annual Meeting in Chicago in 1957. The senator declared, “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.”

Taking on the challenge, in 1957, several Texas electric cooperatives sent groups of young people to Washington, D.C., to work during the summer in Senator Johnson’s office and to learn more about government in action.

In 1958, rural electric cooperatives in Iowa sponsored the first group of 34 young people on a weeklong study tour of the Capitol. Later that same year, another busload came to Washington, D.C., from Illinois. The idea grew and other states sent busloads of young people throughout the summer. By 1959, the Youth Tour had grown to 159 students.

In 1964, NRECA began to coordinate the program and suggested that cooperative representatives from each state arrange to be in Washington, D.C., during Youth Tour week. The first year of the coordinated tour included approximately 400 young people from 12 states. The program continued to grow and today, over 1,800 young people and chaperones participate in the Youth Tour every year.

Applications for the Youth Tour are available on our SDCEA’s website, each year in early October. The deadline for application submissions is the beginning of January. For more information, contact SDCEA at (719) 395-2412, toll-free at (844) 395-2412, or email Communications.