Natalie Thoms didn’t expect to fall in love with the Washington, D.C. area, but her five days in June in the nation’s Capitol did exactly that.
“I didn’t know what to expect. I hadn’t been out East before,” said Natalie.
Each year in June, electric cooperatives send youth delegates to Washington, D.C. to learn more about government, electric cooperatives and, most importantly, to have some fun.
Natalie, who will be a junior at Prior Lake High School this fall, was MVEC’s 2019 representative. “I had a blast,” said Natalie. “It was an awesome experience.” So awesome, she wants to go back already and take her family (Dad Eric, Mom Jean and younger sisters Julia and Aubrey) with her.
At the very least, she’d like to include a few Washington, D.C. schools on her college tour plan. “I’d love to check out Georgetown and some other colleges in the area. “I’m a real planner. I like to have a plan,” said Natalie, who is eying a career in electrical engineering, like her dad, or pre-med.
She was very excited to get the Youth Tour itinerary from the Minnesota Rural Electric Association, which coordinated the trip for 40 Minnesota students. In D.C., the Minnesotans joined over 1,800 teens from electric cooperatives around the U.S. for the annual youth leadership event.
Natalie and the Minnesota group flew from Minneapolis to D.C. on Saturday, June 15, had a whirlwind five days bussing to various locations, and arrived back home June 20.
Sightseeing stops included the Smithsonian Museums, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the National Cathedral, Old Town Alexandria where she experienced nitrogen-infused ice cream, George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate and the many national monuments along the National Mall and Tidal Basin.
“I think the Lincoln Memorial was my favorite,” said Natalie. “But Thomas Jefferson’s memorial was absolutely amazing, and also he’s my favorite president.”
Other stops included the World War II, Martin Luther King, FDR and Iwo Jima memorials, and the Holocaust, Marine Corps and African American History and Culture museums.
She enjoyed watching the changing of the guard at Arlington Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. “It was so cool how the Marines were perfectly in sync.”
For their day on the Hill, the Minnesota contingent met with several Minnesota congressional leaders, toured the Capitol and visited the Senate Gallery and watched as all the U.S. senators voted and intermingled. “It was exciting to dress up and meet with people who make a big impact in our government,” said Natalie. “My favorite part of the Capitol building was the design and details in the ceiling and walls. Also, I didn’t realize it has so many statues.”
On several evenings, Youth Tour delegates had informational sessions on The Cooperative Way, presentations from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association staff, and inspiring motivational speakers.
“Words cannot express my gratitude to MVEC for sending me on this amazing trip,” said Natalie. “It truly was a trip of a lifetime, and I will never forget the wonderful people and memories I made. I loved every minute of D.C.”