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State cooperatives plan summer reunion


Youth Tour celebrating 50 years A


50-year reunion is planned for participants of Oklahoma’s Washington D. C. Youth Tour. A celebration is being hosted Saturday, July 13, 2013,


in Oklahoma City by the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives (OAEC). OAEC is coordinating the event in association with electric cooperatives throughout the state. Jennifer Dempsey, Youth Tour Coordinator for OAEC,


is excited about the gathering of Youth Tour. She has organized the Oklahoma delegation for the last 14 years and has seen first-hand the impact the program has had on the lives of its participants. Dempsey may be


partial, but she says Youth Tour alumni are a pretty special bunch.


50th


“I think honoring the anniversary of this


amazing program and bringing together all the wonderful people who have gone on the trip over the last fifty years is really worth celebrating,” said Dempsey. “This reunion is going to bring together people who may not have seen each other for decades to relive the wonderful experiences they shared, learning about and exploring our nation’s capital. Much of what we see when we go to D. C. for the trip now is the same as it was when the 1964 Youth Tour group went to D. C. That’s pretty cool.” Texas Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson helped inspire


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 continued to spread and today,


over 1,500 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.


Oklahoma electric One of the first Youth Tour groups heads for Washington, D. C.


cooperatives have sponsored nearly 2,600 students over the last 50 years. Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative has sent more than 200 youth to Washington, D. C. since 1967.


the Youth Tour concept when he addressed the 1957 National Rural Electric Cooperatives Association (NRECA) Annual Meeting in Chicago. The future president declared: “If one thing goes out of this meeting, it will be sending youngsters to the national capitol where they can actually see what the flag stands for and represents.” A few Texas electric cooperatives sent groups of young


people to Washington later that summer to work 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 the nation’s capital. Later that same year, another bus load came to Washington from Illinois. The idea grew and other states sent bus loads of young people throughout the summer. By 1959, “Youth Tour” had


4 Northeast Connection


“I truly hope we can bring all of them together so we can tell them we’re just as proud of them today as we were when they first took the trip,” said Dempsey. “They’re a pretty exceptional bunch of people.” All former Youth Tour alumni are invited to the reunion in Oklahoma City. The program will feature guest speakers, including NRECA Youth Tour Director Randy Dwyer, lunch, a special video presentation, awards and more. There is no charge for former Youth Tour participants to attend the reunion luncheon and only a nominal fee for their guests. Contact Dempsey for reunion registration information


by phone at (405) 607-0161 or by email at jdempsey@ oaec.coop.


A complete list of Youth Tour participants from


Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative’s service- territory is available on the page at right. If you see your name on this list, please contact NEOEC Youth Programs Coordinator Amy Claborn and submit a current mailing address by calling toll-free at (800) 256-6405 ext. 9392.


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