Two high school students from the Clarke-Washington EMC area traveled to Washington D.C. for the annual Electric Cooperative Youth Tour. Nour Jabnouni of Washington County High School and
Sanaa Thomas of McIntosh High School were selected to represent Clarke-Washington Electric Membership Corporation for the 2023 Youth Tour Program. This is the first time since 2019 that the Washington D.C. Youth Tour has resumed. The Youth Tour in 2020, 2021, and 2022 were all canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) decided to postpone the Youth Tour regarding health concerns. The Electric Cooperative Youth Tour is a group of more than 1,500 high school students who visit Washington D.C., every June, from all over rural America.

Each electric cooperative selects delegates from their area to attend the Youth Tour. Electric Cooperatives believe in providing young leaders with a life-impacting opportunity to increase their understanding of the value of rural electrification. “This opportunity has impacted my leadership skills by helping me be more open to comfortably working and communicating with others,” says delegate Sanaa Thomas.

Delegates visited the Lincoln, Vietnam Veterans, Korean War, MLK, Iwo Jima, and FDR Memorials as well as the Museum of the Marine Corps during their first day in Washington D.C. They also visited the Washington Monument, Smithsonian and Holocaust Museum, and WWII Memorial where they saw the Alabama monument. They visited Mount Vernon, saw The Lion King at the Kennedy Center, the Air Force and 9/11 Pentagon Memorial.

Delegates toured Arlington National Cemetery and participated in the Alabama wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Honoring and reflecting on the sacrifice of our nation’s greatest heroes by attending these ceremonies was an extraordinary and deeply moving privilege for the delegates. The Alabama Rural Electric Association (AREA) was able to secure the students a private night-tour of the Capitol.

When asked about her favorite place to visit, Nour Jabnouni said, “The Capital building was my favorite place we visited not only because of the history in the building itself, but because I was able to walk the very same halls that so many great historical figures did before me.”

Nour and Sanaa were able to catch a Washington Nationals Baseball game in Nationals Park. “This is a one-of-a-kind experience for our students,” says Sarah Tuner, Clarke-Washington EMC communications/ youth tour coordinator. “This gives them a new outlook on their local cooperative, broadens their education and allows them to see things they learned about in school. This gives them a chance to get out of their comfort zone and meet other young leaders across the country.”

The Youth Tour has been a joint effort of Alabama Electric co-ops, the Alabama Rural Electric Association and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association for over 50 years. This opportunity is available to high school juniors in the Clarke-Washington area.