The Electric Cooperative Youth Tour is a group of more than 1,600 high school students a who visit Washington, D.C.:

  • Every June, year after year
  • From small towns and cities all over America

They come because their electric cooperatives think education is important — education about:

  • Electric cooperatives
  • America

The Beginning of Youth Tour


Senator Lyndon Johnson inspired the Youth Tour when:

  • He addressed the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (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.”

Beginning of 1957, some of the Texas electric cooperatives sent groups of young people to Washington to:

  • Work during the summer in Senator Johnson’s office
  • Learn more about government in action


In 1958, rural electric cooperatives in Iowa sponsored:

  • The first group of 34 young people on a week-long study tour of the nation’s capital

Later that same year:

  • Another busload of students went to Washington, D.C., from Illinois
  • Other states sent busloads of young people throughout the summer


By 1959, the Youth Tour:

  • Had grown to 130 students


In 1964, NRECA:

  • Began to Coordinate the program
  • 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 idea has continued to grow, and today:

  • More than 1,600 young people and chaperones participate in the Youth Tour each year
2023 Youth Tour Application
Why does JWEMC send students on the Youth Tour?

The goals of the tours are to provide the opportunity for outstanding young people to increase their knowledge and understanding of :

  • The value of rural electrification
  • Historical and political environment of the nation’s capital through visits to:
    • Monuments
    • Government buildings
    • Cooperative organizations
  • How the federal government works by visiting elected officials
Montgomery Youth Tour

The 2023 Montgomery Youth Tour will be held March 14 to 16, with approximately:

  • 150 high school students representing 17 participating cooperatives from around the state

Students will:

  • Participate in leadership sessions on:
    • Rising above negative peer pressure
    • The importance of teamwork
  • Attend a special dinner where they can enjoy a:
    • Dance
    • Photo booth
    • Other activities
  • Tour the:
    • Alabama Department of Archives
    • Alabama State House
    • Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church
    • Alabama Capitol
    • Civil Rights Memorial
  • Meet with:
    • Local Legislators
    • Community leaders
  • Take part in several team-building activities with Cea Cohen Elliott
Washington Youth Tour

The 2022 Washington Youth Tour will be June 19 to 24. For an activity-filled week, JWEMC delegates will join:

  • Students from around Alabama
  • Hundreds of other high-school students from around the country

Highlights from the Washington Youth Tour trip include:

Visits to Capitol Hill

  •  AREA coordinates meetings with U.S. Representatives and Senators from Alabama
  • Students discuss government and current issues with many other elected officials
  • Lawmakers answer questions on everything from energy policy to world affairs


  • Students tour the following attractions in the Washington, D.C., area:
    • Arlington National Cemetery
    • Mount Vernon
    • FDR Memorial
    • Jefferson Memorial
    • Vietnam, Korean, World War II and Iwo Jima memorials
    • Lincoln Memorial
    • Smithsonian and the Holocaust Museum
    • Newseum
    • Madame Toussaud’s Wax Museum
    • Live performance at the Kennedy Center

Youth Day

In addition to taking in the sights and sounds of the nation’s Capitol all the state groups convene for Youth Day to hear from public figures.

During Youth Day, students listen to inspirational speakers who:

  • Challenge individuals of all ages that despite difficult circumstances, you can take responsibility and be empowered

Youth Leadership Council

Each year, many Washington Youth Tour winners in Alabama interview for an opportunity to represent our state on NRECA’s annual Youth Leadership Council (YLC):

  • The council is comprised of 1 student representative from:
    • Each state that participates in NRECA’s Youth Leadership Conference
  • The students help direct the focus of:
    • Youth programs and learn more extensive leadership skills

Alabama’s YLC Delegate will attend a special leadership conference in Washington, D.C., as well as the NRECA annual meeting.

*Due to COVID concerns, some or all parts of the Youth Tour may be altered or canceled without notice.

The Rules


This opportunity is open to all high school juniors (11th grade):

    • Attending school in Lawrence or Morgan counties
    • Living in the Joe Wheeler EMC service territory
    • With at least 1 parent or legal guardian being a member of Joe Wheeler EMC

At least 1 student will be selected from each school with qualifying applicants:

  • Homeschooled and small private schools will be grouped together as 1 "school"
  • If that student is unable to attend:
    • A runner-up will be selected to fill the spot from that school
  • Students interested in participating must complete an application and submit it to:
    • Michael Cornelison, JWEMC’s Youth Tour Coordinator
  • Students will be notified of their selection by January 14, 2022
  • Selected students must have the approval of your:
    • Guidance counselor
    • Principal
  • Family members of JWEMC employees are not eligible to apply

Applications must be completed fully and received by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, January 14, 2022 (Deadline Extended)

Youth Tour Functions

Students selected must attend all JWEMC Youth Tour functions. Failure to attend all portions of the Montgomery trip:

  • Will make a student ineligible for the Washington Youth Tour and a runner-up will be selected to attend

Before the Montgomery Youth Tour, all 15 students attending will interview:

  • To be selected as 1 of 5 winners of an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. in June
  • At the JWEMC Trinity office on President's Day

Student Selections

During the Montgomery Youth Tour, the 5 Washington Youth Tour students will be selected based on their:

  • Applications
  • Interviews
  • Participation
  • Cooperation

The students selected for the Washington Youth Tour will be informed after returning from Montgomery. All decisions made by the selection committee are final.

*Due to COVID concerns, some or all parts of the Youth Tour may be altered or canceled without notice.

Fill Out the 2022 Youth Tour Application

If you need a paper application, please contact Michael Cornelison at (256) 552-2300.

Youth Tour Alumni Form

Are you one of the hundreds of young men and women who have gone on the JWEMC Youth Tour over the years? If so, we would love to hear from you. We want to know how you’ve been, favorite YT memories and what advice you might have for youth thinking about applying.

If this is you, please fill out the form below, we’re looking forward to hearing from you.

Did you go to Washington as part of the Youth Tour?
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