The Youth Tour Program was inspired by Senator Lyndon B. Johnson as he addressed the 1957 annual meeting of all electric cooperatives. His hopes were that electric cooperatives would send young people to our nation’s capital where they could actually see what our nation’s flag represents. That same year, Texas cooperatives joined together and sent a group of young people to Washington, DC where they toured the Capital and met with the President and their Congressmen. The next year, Iowa joined the efforts of Texas and the Rural Electric Youth Tour Program began. By 1964, the national office of rural electric cooperatives began coordinating the trip and declared the second week in June as National Rural Electric Youth Tour Week.
Students were nominated from area high schools to participate in the EMEPA Youth Tour program. Eleven schools from East Mississippi participated in the program this year. These eleven students and their parents were invited to a casual dinner at EMEPA headquarters in Meridian. Dinner was provided along with a program about EMEPA and Youth Tour.
Students participate in a 10-minute interview with a panel of judges from the community and other electric power associations in Mississippi. Students are judged on their ability to discuss electric cooperatives and the Youth Tour program. In addition, students are given a chance to discuss their community involvement and leadership abilities.
“Cooperative University” is a one-day class where students are trained on the cooperative business model, the utility industry and the national Youth Tour program. Students also participate in leadership and team building exercises.
Leadership Workshop in Jackson, MS
EMEPA students participate in the Youth Leadership Workshop held each year in Jackson during the Spring. At this meeting, students will form a mock government, participate in team building exercises and meet with state legislators during the annual Youth Leadership breakfast. Students meet other students from across the state and build their leadership skills together through a variety of activities held during the three-day workshop.
NRECA’s Rural Electric Youth Tour
Two to three students are selected by the interview panel to travel on an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. to represent EMEPA. Kierra Phillips from Noxapater Attendance Center, Zoria Nicholson from Louisville High School and Alec Marlow from Southeast Lauderdale High School were chosen for the 2015 Youth Tour. These students travel in June to Washington, D.C. with 1,500 students from across the country to tour our nation’s capital while learning about national government and rural electrification.