Victory Electric believes in investing in the future by providing opportunities for tomorrow’s leaders. Each year Victory selects four high school juniors from our service area to participate in one of two Youth Tour experiences. Two students are chosen for each trip. Winning student are selected based on three criteria: 1) application and résumé 2) letters of recommendation 3) interview with judges.
Senator Lyndon B. 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, D.C., 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, D.C., 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 cooperative representatives from each state arrange to be in Washington, D.C., during Youth Tour week. The first year of the coordinated event included approximately 400 young people from 12 states. Word of the program continued to spread and today, more than 1,500 students and 250 chaperones participate in Youth Tour every year.
In 1973, Kansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc., (KEC) Board of Trustees suggested there should be a conference for youth, in addition to the existing Youth Tour program. In 1976, KEC sent a representative to a leadership camp created by the Colorado Electric Cooperatives to evaluate camp activities and educational potential. In 1977, KEC sent its first delegates to Cooperative Youth Leadership Camp (then called the Energy Seminar) in Steamboat Springs. Now, nearly 100 students from Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Wyoming attend the leadership camp each year.