LBJ knew exactly what he was doing. And generations of young people are the better for it.

Lyndon Baines Johnson was a U.S. senator in 1957 when he addressed the annual meeting of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and told co-ops they should send youngsters to Washington, D.C., “where they can actually see what the flag stands for and represents.”

The Electric Cooperative Youth Tour was born. Some Texas co-ops sent teenagers to work in Johnson’s office, while an electric co-op in Iowa sponsored the first large group of 34 youths to travel to the nation’s capital a week of immersion in government.

Today, the tradition continues. Co-op youths across Virginia, Maryland and Delaware are eligible to be a part of a tour that’s changed the lives of nearly 50,000 young people.

The tour has changed somewhat, especially in the era of COVID-19, since the health and safety of our participants is paramount. In 2021, for example, we kept the tour confined to historic areas of Virginia. Still, students enjoyed touring historic Williamsburg and meeting with legislative leaders. Participants attend several educational seminars during the tour and establish lasting relationships with peers that participate in the Youth Tour program.

Through the tour, young people learn about government, and about their local electric cooperatives and the role they play in their communities. The 2022 tour is scheduled for June 20-24. 

The Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives coordinates it from the three-state region. Each participating electric cooperative selects the youths each year using varying criteria that can be found on their websites. All expenses are paid by the sponsoring electric cooperative. It’s the perfect way to demonstrate the power of democracy and the importance of leadership.

Youth Tour Video Gallery
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Questions: please contact Dathie Washington at or call 804-297-3487.