2023 Youth Tour // By Isabel Birkholtz

The 2023 Youth Tour was an amazing experience! I got the opportunity to do and see so many cool things in our Nation’s Capital. I spent the week with 33 other kids representing electric cooperatives all over Minnesota. Together we learned so much, including the importance of electric cooperatives, especially in rural areas. One of the coolest things about this trip was the bond I got to make with all these kids. We spent the week doing so many amazing things!

On the first day we went to the Lincoln Memorial and walked the National Mall. We saw the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial. Visiting these were very educational. Next we went to Arlington Cemetery where we took a trolly tour. This was one of my favorite places that we visited. I was amazed by just how big the whole place was and was speechless at the endless rows of tombs. While we were at Arlington, we watched the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. There are no words to describe how powerful this experience was. To see the way that we honor all of the Unknown Soldiers was incredible. 

On the second day of the trip, we went to the Capitol! We went on a guided tour which was so cool! Then we got the incredible opportunity to meet with different legislators from Minnesota and ask them tons of questions! We got to talk to many different representatives, as well as both Sen. Tina Smith and Sen. Amy Klobuchar. This was one of my favorite experiences on this trip, just to be able to sit and talk with the politicians who represent our state of Minnesota was so cool! We also got to tour the House and Senate gallery, which was one of my favorite things we did on the whole trip!

The last two days of the trip we got to see the National Cathedral – which was beautiful, Mount Vernon – which was also beautiful, the Smithsonian museums, the Library of Congress, and the White House! We also went to the Holocaust Museum. That was an incredibly eye-opening and tear-jerking experience, but one of my favorite things we did that week. We also spent one night at a big meeting with all the kids from all the states and learned about the NRECA and electric cooperatives and heard from a couple different inspirational speakers. 

Overall this trip was easily one of the best things I’ve ever done. I had a blast and learned so much. I will never stop recommending this trip to other youth! I am beyond grateful for this opportunity and will forever thank Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative for sponsoring me and choosing me as their delegate.