The annual electric cooperative Youth Tour trip to Washington D.C. is many things for high school students.
It’s a week-long trip to a new destination, where students gain insight on the history of electric co-ops and the roles they play in rural communities across the country. It’s a chance to meet peers from different states and make friendships that may last a lifetime. It’s also an opportunity to speak with legislators and see the history of our country in the Nation’s Capitol.
For Brandon Busch, a senior at Prior Lake this fall, it was all of those things and more.
“It kind of changed my life going on this trip,” said Busch. “You’re just in awe of everything there and how beautiful it all is and what it means to the history of our country.”
MVEC sponsored Busch — son of Tony and Jennifer of Prior Lake — to attend the annual trip, where he joined 33 other Minnesota students and more than 1,400 high schoolers from around the U.S. to participate in the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour, held this year June 13-18 in our nation’s capital.
The Minnesota Rural Electric Association organized and led the Minnesota state delegation to Washington, where students learned firsthand about politics, community development and the cooperative business model. Students also met with members of Congress, including senators Klobuchar and Smith and representatives Craig, Phillips, Finstad and Stauber.
“It was really a new and cool experience to see how they (Minnesota legislators) interact in person,” said Busch. “It was great because it really seemed like they wanted to be there and were friendly and willing to talk to all of us.”
Among the sights in Washington D.C., the Minnesota group toured the Library of Congress, the Capitol building, Arlington Cemetery, the Smithsonian and more.
MVEC member service rep Mary Kaye Keohen was selected by MREA to attend the trip as a chaperone, the first time MVEC staff have attended the event.
“It was really exciting seeing kids so interested on the trip,” said Keohen. “You’re watching the kids find out different career paths that might interest them and that was really fun.”
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) has hosted Youth Tour students in D.C. since 1964. More than 58,000 students have attended this educational and fun trip, which is a joint effort between the NRECA and electric cooperative statewide associations from across the country. In addition to taking in the sights and sounds of Washington D.C., all state groups convened for Rural Electric Youth Day to learn from public figures and inspirational speakers.
“I think we really take electricity for granted,” Busch said of living in a co-op service area. “I’ve never lived in a place where you don’t have electricity or have to travel somewhere for internet so I was never really forced to think about it too much. So I really enjoyed learning about the history of electric co-ops and hearing about what they do for rural communities.”