High School Juniors! Win a week in Washington, D.C.
June 18-23, 2024


Youth Tour is a once-in-a-lifetime, all-expenses-paid leadership travel opportunity for high school juniors in Beltrami Electric Cooperative's service area.

One student, whose parent or guardian is a BEC member, will be selected to represent our cooperative in the National Rural Electric Cooperative Youth Tour, held each year in June. The 2024 tour will be held June 18-23, 2024.Youth Tour logo red, white, and blue

More than 1,800 students from all across America take part in the Youth Tour experience each year. This unique trip gives young people the opportunity to watch history come alive, explore museums, memorials, and monuments, make friendships that will last a lifetime, and be part of a group that has more than 50,000 alumni from every walk of life, including U.S. Senators and CEOs. The Youth Tour program continues to foster the grassroots spirit of the rural electric cooperatives by demonstrating to high school juniors how our government works and what the electric cooperative business model is all about. In a time when energy is at the forefront of our nation's issues, this is a great opportunity to have a hand in the creation of electric cooperative advocates!

  • Visit historic monuments and museums
  • Build lifelong relationships
  • Boost your community service and engagement for college applications
  • Meet with your U.S. Representatives and Senators

BEC's winner will travel with approximately 40 Minnesota teens sponsored by other rural electric co-ops and join 1,800 national delegates in D.C.


Youth Tour FAQs

  • Fly from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C.

  • Stay at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, VA.

  • Tour historical sites, including Arlington, National Cemetery, Capitol Hill, the Lincoln Memorial, Mount Vernon, the Smithsonian Institution, the U.S. Supreme Court, Washington National Cathedral, Library of Congress, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, National Archives, Iwo Jima Memorial, Old Town Alexandria, the White House (outside only) and more. Sample itinerary

  • Meet Minnesota political representatives and learn more about our local and national government.

  • Hear featured speakers who provide insight to the important roles electric cooperatives play in their communities.

  • Create lifelong friendships with students from all around the country.

To enter the contest, you must be a junior in high school (will be a senior in fall 2024).

Your parent(s)/guardian(s) must be a member of Beltrami Electric Cooperative.

Candidates must submit the following:

  • Completed online application 
  • Submit a current student photo
  • Submit a letter of reference from a teacher, coach, or community leader.

Please note: This tour is available only for students whose parents or legal guardians receive electricity from Beltrami Electric Cooperative - a benefit of co-op membership.

Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson inspired the Youth Tour when he addressed the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) Annual Meeting in Chicago in 1957. The Senator and future president declared, “If one thing comes out of this meeting, it will be sending youngsters to the national capital where they can actually see what the flag stands for and represents.”

Consequently, some Texas electric cooperatives sent groups of young people to Washington to work during the summer in Senator Johnson’s office. In 1958, a rural electric cooperative in Iowa sponsored the first group of 34 young people on a week-long study tour of our nation’s capital. Later that same year, another busload came to Washington from Illinois.

The idea grew and other states sent busloads of young people throughout the summer. By 1959, the “Youth Tour” had grown to 130 students. In 1964, NRECA began to coordinate joint activities among the state delegations and suggested that co-op representatives from each state arrange to be in Washington, D.C., during Youth Tour week.

The first year of the coordinated Tour included approximately 400 young people from 12 states. Word of the program has continued to spread and today, more than 1,800 students and over 250 chaperones participate in the Youth Tour every year. Youth Tour directors from each state association arrange their delegation’s visits to their U.S. representatives and senators’ offices, federal agencies, and other educational and sightseeing activities. In addition to the planned statewide activities, the Youth Tour experience encompasses multi-state activities coordinated by NRECA.

Who is NRECA? The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) is based in Arlington, VA, and is the service organization that BEC is affiliated with. They are dedicated to representing the national interests of cooperative electric utilities and the consumers they serve.

Who comes on the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour? Nearly 1,800 students from 44 states participate in the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour program. For more than 50 years, the Youth Tour has brought high school students to Washington, D.C., to learn how their government works and the importance of civic engagement.

What does it cost? Youth Tour participants are sponsored by their local electric cooperative. Yes, the trip is free for the students! However, they may want to bring some spending money for souvenirs.

Will my son/daughter be safe? The safety and well-being of the students who take part in Youth Tour is our number one priority. Your son or daughter will be accounted for at all times and will be supervised by several adult chaperones in his/her group. In addition to the chaperones traveling with each state group, NRECA staff is on-site, at the hotel, for the entire week of Youth Tour. Curfew is 11 p.m. each evening and is strictly enforced. Chaperones traveling with your son/daughter’s state will ensure that all students are in their assigned rooms. Further, professional security guards are on duty, on every hotel floor from 10:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. to ensure maximum safety. For more information, see Rules and Guidelines.

Are medical professionals on-site? Yes. NRECA contracts with two full-time nurses who have more than 60 years of emergency room and trauma experience. The nurses are on-site and are available 24 hours a day throughout the week. 

Minnesota Rural Electric Association coordinates this event annually. Visit their website to learn more.

2023 - Elena Harmsen, Bemidji High School

2022 - Ashley Pirkl, Bemidji High School

2021 - No tour

2020 - Josibeth Aguilera, Bemidji High School

2019 - Willow Damar, Walker-Hackensack-Akeley School

2018 - Zach Stute, Laporte School

2017 - Mara Cobb, Home School Association, Bemidji

2016 - Lara Hicks, Bemidji High School

2015 - Andrea Bunich, Bemidji High School

2014 - Jenna Thompson, Bemidji High School

2013 - McKayla Beaulieu, Bemidji High School

2012 - Jasmine Jones, Cass Lake High School

2011 - Levi Erickson, Bemidji High School

2010 - Deborah Mayers, Kelliher High School

2009 - Brittany Hand, Kelliher High School

2008 - Cody Graham, Bemidji High School

2007 - Katie Reise, Bemidji High School

2006 - Leif Voltz, Bemidji High School

2005 - Jon Staff, Bemidji High School

2004 - Matt Rabe, Kelliher High School

2003 - Kyle Johnson, Bemidji High School

2002 - Courtney Andree, Bemidji High School

2001 - DeeDee Shogren, Blackduck High School

2000 - Kelly Wiebe, Blackduck High School

1999 - Dustin Anderson, Blackduck High School

1998 - Tamara Johnson, Bemidji High School

1997 - Teresa Bechtold, Blackduck High School

Students visit the Vietnam memorial