Mason Tomac (Baker City), Bonny Daggett (Imbler), Anna Gambill (La Grande) and Annie Wall (Canyon City) visit the World War II Memorial during the 2017 Washington D.C. Electric Cooperative Youth Tour on Sunday, June 11.

Bonny Daggett (Imbler), Anna Gambill (La Grande), Mason Tomac (Baker City), and Annie Wall (Canyon City) packed their bags, loaded up into the Subaru Tribeca and set off for the 2017 Washington D.C. Electric Cooperative Youth Tour on Friday, June 9.

Each student was competitively selected and will represent Oregon and the Northwest as they join 1,500 of their colleagues from across the United States for a one-week trip to our nation’s capital. Over the course of the week, OTEC’s student delegates will visit famous historical sites, engage in leadership training, meet with their elected congressional representatives on Capitol Hill, and bond with students from co-op communities all across the country. They will also learn about electric cooperatives and current issues in energy and climate change legislation that face our communities and our nation.

(Left to Right) Mason Tomac (Baker City), Annie Wall (Canyon City), Anna Gambill (La Grande), and Bonny Daggett (Imbler) were all smiles and had their bags expertly packed. All four OTEC delegates set off for the 2017 Washington D.C. Electric Cooperative Youth Tour on Friday, June 9.

“This tour was initiated after Senator Lyndon B. Johnson suggested that cooperatives send young, promising student leaders to the nation’s capital where they could have the opportunity to see, first-hand, what the American flag stands for and represents,” said OTEC Manager of Communications and Governments Affairs Lara Petitclerc-Stokes. “Our student delegates will have a week packed full visiting historical war memorials, national archives, the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian to name a few.”

“It is part of our Seven Cooperative Principles to dedicate education and training to the advancement of youth within the communities we serve,” said Petitclerc-Stokes. “This is an invaluable opportunity for these young leaders to travel and experience our nation’s capital. It is, for many, a once-in-a-life-time event.”

OTEC’s 2016 Youth Tour delegate Heather Keniry agreed, “During our trip last year, I was exposed to the ideals of a cooperative and how they work to promote community as well as innovation. Growing up in the small town of La Grande instilled in me an appreciation of community and all it can do for the people who are able to be a part of it. I feel OTEC embodies the definition of community and its support inspires me to make a difference in the world. Through my Youth Tour experience I received the direction I needed to begin my college career. I will always have the lasting impact that this trip made on me to help move me forward with my education and learn more.”

Previous Youth Tour participants have become university presidents, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and members of Congress. In 2015, Apple CEO Tim Cook credited the Youth Tour with his first trip to Washington in his commencement speech to graduates of George Washington University. Over the past 52 years, nearly 52,000 students have visited Washington through the Youth Tour.

If you are a high school sophomore heading into your junior year and would like more details on the Washington D.C. Electric Cooperative Youth Tour, please visit: Applications for the 2018 tour will be available beginning November 2017. Mark your calendar and visit under the “Community” tab.

OTEC is a non-profit electric cooperative serving 23,000 members in Baker, Grant, Harney and Union counties. Youth Tour funds come from unclaimed capital credits and their earnings. They do not affect electric rates.

OTEC is also a member of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) which represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, and provides service to 42 million people in 47 states.