Washington Youth Tour

What is the Washington Youth Tour?

  • Every June, as many as 1,500 high school students from across the country spend a week in the nation’s capital as part of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Youth Tour
  • The students are sponsored by electric cooperatives – cooperatives that are committed to educating America’s rural youth about America and the role electric cooperatives play in developing strong rural communities
  • Participating in the Youth Tour is an awesome way to learn about this great nation, develop leadership skills, gain a better understanding of electric cooperatives, and make friendships that will last beyond the week!

Youth Tour with GCEC

Graham County Electric Cooperative, Inc. (GCEC) is proud to be a sponsor of the Washington Youth Tour (WYT) program.

  • Since 1999 GCEC has sent students each year on a week-long, all-expense paid trip to Washington D.C.
  • You’ll see places such as the U.S. Capitol, White House, Arlington National Cemetery, Mount Vernon, Fort McHenry, Smithsonian Museums, and many other museums and memorials in the D.C area.
  • You’ll have the opportunity to make new friends as you join nearly 1,600 other students all sponsored by electric co-ops from across the country.

Washington Youth Tour Competition Rules

This trip is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! GCEC is currently taking applications until Tuesday, November 8th, 2022 for the 2023 WYT (tentatively scheduled for June 12 through 18, 2023). Here are the rules for the competition:

  • Must be a Junior attending a High School in Graham County
  • Parents(s) or guardian(s) of student recipient must be a current member of Graham County Electric Coop (electric or water service)
  • Students must be between 15 and 18 years of age by June 1, 2023
  • Write an essay following the guidelines as described under essay guidelines and how to apply.
  • Finalist will be interviewed by a panel of judges

How to Apply

  • Please return the application and essay to Graham County Electric Cooperative, Inc., PO Drawer B, Pima, AZ 85543 before the deadline
  • You may also bring your application and essay to the Co-op Office located at 9 West Center Street in Pima or submit it online by completing our Youth Tour Application and submitting your essay below
  • When submitting your application and essay online, you should see a message that says: “Thank you for completing the Washington Youth Tour Application form. Our team will review this information and reach out with any questions.”
  • You will also receive a confirmation email
  • If you do not see the message and/or receive the confirmation email then there may be a problem with your submission
  • Please contact the office to confirm your submission

All applications and essays for the 2023 trip are due no later than Tuesday, November 8th 2022. 

For more information about WYT, please call Tracy Botkins, Local Tour Coordinator, at (928) 485-2451 extension 8675.

Essay Guidelines

Students will be required to prepare an essay using the following guidelines:

  1. Topic: “What is the importance of voting for your elected officials?”
  2. Write an essay discussing the above topic.  There is no right or wrong way to do this.  Use your imagination, be creative, and don’t worry whether yours will be like the other contestants.  Everyone will have a different take on this, so just concern yourself with doing your personal best.
  3. Must be the sole work of the contestant.  Credits must be given for research material.
  4. Contain no less than 350 and no more than 500 words.
  5. Typed and double-spaced.
  6. Judging of essays is anonymous. Do not write your name on the essay, or identify yourself in any way in the contents.  Each essay will be assigned a number when it is received.

Essays will be judged anonymously, using the following criteria:

  • Knowledge of Subject: Depth of information, effectiveness of message
  • Originality: Freshness of thought, responsiveness to topic
  • Composition: Organization of thoughts, coherence / unity, effective transitions
  • Neatness: Adherence to guidelines, grammatical correctness
  • Persuasiveness: Overall impact of essay

2023 Washington Youth Tour Winners Announced

Caleb BaldwinCaleb Baldwin is a student from Safford High School and the son of Tamara and Merlin Baldwin. He enjoys soccer, video games, camping, bird watching, piano and both playing and listening to music. He has been involved in National Honor Society service projects, Boy Scouts of America and is a volunteer AYSO referee. His future plans are to become an engineer, after graduating high school.

Brock Bryce standing in fieldBrock Bryce is a student at Pima High School and the son of Josh and Katy Bryce. He is involved in football, wrestling and choir. He takes dual credit classes at Eastern AZ College. He has helped in the community by cleaning the Bryce Cemetery, selling concessions at the Pioneer Day Rodeo and has sung the National Anthem for local events. He made Regional and All State Choir as a freshman. In his BIO he states, “I’m a hard worker and am also enthusiastic about life”.

Lexi NabotrLexi Nabor is attending Thatcher High School. She is the daughter of Raquel Nabor. She enjoys bike riding, acting in school plays, painting, fishing with cousins and cooking with her grandma. Besides being in student council, Lexi volunteers for working the concession stand at football games and acting or directing drama class plays. She volunteers at SEACUS and picking up trash in the school courtyards. Her career goal is to obtain a degree in Criminal Justice and a job the helps or inspires others.

Ella PriceElla Price is also attending Safford High School and is the daughter of Jered and Lani Price. Ella loves the arts. Her interests are exploring different mediums such as water color, ceramic, sewing, oil painting, crocheting, and chalk. She is active in playing tennis and basketball with friends. Her favorite subject is Math! Ella is pursuing graphic design and digital publishing through the GIFT program. This is a great start to pursuing her dream of creating and designing things that will better the people and the society in which we live.

Jessica SchmidtJessica Schmidt is also from Pima High School. Her parents are Gerald and Leasa Schmidt. Jessica loves any type of sport. She has played volleyball, track, basketball, swimming and hiking. She enjoys working with the dogs in their family business. As a freshman, Jessica received the Volleyball Hardest Worker award and in basketball received the Defensive Player of the year. While in track she received the Most Improved Award. This past year, Jessica was on the Volleyball 2nd Team for All Conference. Her career goals are to attend Eastern Arizona College and then obtain a clinical psychology degree at the University of Arizona.

Previous Washington Youth Tour Winners

2022 Washington Youth Tour Winners

Ayla Finch, attending Safford High School, loves reading and writing with occasional drawing.  She has taught herself to play the guitar.  Actively engaged in the high school choir, Ayla is the 2021 Vice-President and the current President of band. Her future interests include becoming an urban planner and working with citizens of the community.

Chris Curtis, also attending Safford High School, loves to learn and fix things.  He enjoys taking machines and electronics apart and examining how the components work.  He is the Communications Director for Safford High School's National Honor Society and helps plan fundraisers, service projects, and school activities.  His goal is the obtain an Electrical Engineering Degree with a focus on energy production systems.  Perhaps his future might be with NASA.

Garet Morris attends Pima High School and performs in musical theater.  He has had opportunities to perform in school, church, and other community organizations.  He loves playing the trumpet, cornet, and ukulele as well as dabbling in piano and guitar.  Garet maintains a 4.0 AGPA and takes college classes.  His future endeavors include something in the entertainment industry as a performer, singer, actor, or teaching kids in music. He would love to pursue writing his own songs.

Joshua Simmons a Thatcher High School student, has many interests and hobbies. Some include golf, piano, guitar, and building computers. Joshua has participated in the Arizona Study Program in piano for several years. Not sure of his future, he has interests in computer science, math, or science such as engineering or physics.

Karlee Napier of Ft Thomas High School enjoys volleyball, softball, baking, listening to music, and spending time with her family and friends.  She is an active member of FFA and FBLA as well as Vice-President of the Athletic Club in Ft. Thomas. Karlee's future aspirations include becoming a real estate agent and working with kids either in a daycare setting or teaching.

2021 Washington Youth Tour Cancelled

GCEC partners with Grand Canyon State Electric Cooperative Association (GCSECA) who coordinates the trip for Arizona cooperatives.  GCSECA has withdrawn from the NRECA 2021 Youth Tour due to the safety for the students, parents, and communities involved.  Arizona is one of a large number of states withdrawing nationwide.  GCEC wants to thank those students who applied.

2020 Washington Youth Tour Winners

The following students were selected to attend the 2020 Washington Youth Tour in Washington DC from June 18th to June 25th:

  • Jake Beals and Kai Nelson - Pima High School
  • Mazie Hunt and the late Kade Nelson - Thatcher High School
  • Kendra Fuentes - Ft Thomas High School
  • Trett Wiltbank - Safford High School

2020 Youth Tour Winners Article (PDF)

Update for 2020 Washington Youth Tour:

Unfortunately, for the safety of our students and those attending the tour, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association has canceled the tour for 2020.  We want to thank our students for all their hard work in getting selected.  The GCEC Foundation committee will discuss other considerations for these students.

2019 Washington Youth Tour Winners

The following 7 students were recently selected to attend the 2019 Washington Youth Tour in Washington DC from June 13th to June 20th:

  • Kyler Napier – Ft. Thomas High School
  • Vivianna Talgo – Ft. Thomas High School
  • Morgan Miller – Pima High School
  • Levi Thygerson – Pima High School
  • Ella Peterson – Safford High School
  • Grace Haller – Thatcher High School
  • Katelyn Martin – Thatcher High School

You can read bout the winners and their trip in the following articles:

2019 Youth Tour Video

2018 Washington Youth Tour Winners

Hayden Ashby from Pima High School is the son of Anetta and Than Ashby. Hayden loves spending time with his family.  He has earned the rank of Eagle Scout. Hayden helps with many service projects and is involved in sports.

Brock Jones from Thatcher High School is the son of Russ and Dana Jones.  He is involved in athletics, singing, and playing musical instruments. Brock is interested in learning new things and learning to solve problems.

Camilla Larson from Safford High School is the daughter of Reed and MaryAnn Larson. She loves playing soccer, singing, dancing, public speaking, photography, and playing the piano.  She is involved in community service and tries to plan and implement positive activities for youth groups.

Trae Nelson from Pima High School is the son of Jace and Melinda Nelson. He is involved in many school activities and enjoys hiking, snowboarding, swimming, reading and participating in triathlons.  Trae leads peopke to work harder, to care more, and to be better.

WYT 2018 – Camilla Larson Video

Camilla Larson was selected to represent Arizona for the Youth Leadership Council for 2018-19. Hear all YLC speeches on the Co-ops Vote Facebook page (Camilla starts her speech around 33:10). She attended NRECA's Annual Meeting in February 2019.  Camilla is a Safford High School graduate.  Hear what she says about her trip:

You can read bout the winners and their trip in the following articles:

Youth Tour Photos