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.
It all started in 1978 when DEMCO sent four high school students with two chaperones to Washington, DC. In Washington, they joined with the Texas delegation. The next year, DEMCO encouraged other Louisiana electric cooperatives to join in this educational project.
In 1979, The Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives took interest in the program and now coordinates the annual Youth Tour Program. Each year, about 28 high school students from Louisiana journey to our nation's capital.
DEMCO receives hundreds of essays from area high schools. Three judges read the essays and select 12 finalists. The finalists attend the Youth Tour Banquet held each year at White Oak Plantation. At the banquet, each student presents his or her essay and competes to win one of four slots for an all expenses paid trip to Washington, DC for the Rural Electric Youth Tour Trip.