Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives

Iowa Youth Tour 2024 News

Iowa Youth Tour

June 15-21, 2024
Orientation the night of June 15

What should I wear?
How much luggage can I take?
How much money should I bring?

If you have additional questions, please contact me, Shelly York, at 800-798-7037, ext. 206, or cell: 515-321-4276.


Safety is our top priority!

There are adult chaperones with you on the trip, and our top priority is to ensure your safety, so please remember that your cooperation with our direction at all times is a must.

You will be representing Iowa’s electric cooperatives, and the students who’ve come before you have set a high standard of behavior. Students who come after you will appreciate you upholding the proud tradition that’s been established.

Breaking the following rules is considered cause for sending you home on the next available airline flight back to Des Moines:

  • Smoking/vaping, using other tobacco, consuming alcoholic beverages or other drugs is strictly prohibited.
  • You must remain at the hotel at all times except when you are participating in the planned activities of our group.
  • Leaving the hotel to visit relatives or friends in the area is prohibited.
  • You are not to be out of your assigned room after curfew.

If a student is sent home, his or her parents, not the electric cooperative the student is representing, will be billed for the cost of the entire trip.

If a security event happens on Youth Tour, students should follow the chaperone/police/authority’s directions and if possible, return to the planned pickup location as soon as possible. If they are not able to get there, then they should return to the hotel by whatever means possible. Notify chaperones as to your whereabouts immediately. Iowa Youth Tour will use the our app’s messaging system to communicate out, and students have all the chaperone’s phone numbers. Once we determine the threat status, if none of our group was affected or the attack was a single-action event and contained, we will adjust the schedule and stay in D.C.

Remember to be aware of your surroundings. Students should have a general idea of how to get back to the bus. We ask the students that if their “spidey sense” goes off, pay attention to it. If they see something that doesn’t look right, say something.


Since we have an early morning flight to DC, we are having our orientation the evening of June 15 at the Holiday Inn - Airport, 6111 Fleur Dr., Des Moines, starting at 6 p.m. We will go over the week’s schedule, rules, etc. The parents are dismissed at 6:30 p.m. From there we will do some ice-breaker games and initiate the creation of the Snack Cooperative.

Bring your luggage and put it in the back of the meeting room.

6 p.m.              

Discuss week’s schedule, rules, etc.

6:30 p.m.        
Parents dismissed

Dinner: Hamburgers, Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Ice Breaker/Team Building games

Creation of the Snack Cooperative

Join the Iowa Youth Tour Snack Cooperative – Membership fee: $1. You can (and should) also purchase punch cards ($5/each) to use at the cooperative during the week.

10 p.m.           
Lights out (we've got an EARLY wake-up call - 3:30a ... sorry!)

Remember to bring your driver's license or other government-issued photo identification with you. Airlines will not allow you on an airplane without a photo I.D.

Also at orientation … Did you know?? One of the Cooperative Principles is Commitment to Community. And, in a small way we are going to practice that during our Youth Tour Orientation. Iowa Youth Tour is partnering with the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight, and we get to send notes of appreciation to some of our very own heroes.

Each Veteran on their way home from their Honor Flight gets a large envelope filled with letters written to them by family, school children and members of the community, both young and old. Many tears have been witnessed on the plane ride home when the Veterans receive their letters and see that people have taken the time to write them a personal note.

We are excited to be part of this project … hope you are too!


June 16
Des Moines to St. Louis, SW Flight #2762 leaving at 5:30a
St. Louis to Baltimore, SW Flight 1180 leaving at 9:40a (arriving at 12:40a)

June 21
DC to St. Louis, SW Flight 5111 leaving at 8:05a
St. Louis to Des Moines, SW Flight 2171 leaving at 9:50a (arriving at 11a)


We are scheduled to arrive in Des Moines at 11 a. on June 21 on SW flight #2171

Flight numbers and times are subject to change by the airline.

The baggage claim area at the Des Moines International Airport is in the south end of the terminal building. Your parents/guardians or cooperative representatives can meet you in the baggage area or in the concourse before the security checkpoint. Short-term parking is available in the parking ramp in front of the terminal building.


Go to the bathroom ON the plane before we land in St. Louis to connect to our next flight (as opposed to once we get off the plane and in the terminal), if you can. Just makes getting to our next gate less rushed.


We will be traveling by chartered bus while in Washington, D.C. Our bus driver is Rob Taylor. He has been Iowa’s bus driver for Youth Tour for several years. Rob’s day job is being a Maryland state trooper – he takes a week off from that to hang out with us.  


Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center
201 Waterfront St.
National Harbor, MD

You will be sharing a room with one other Iowa student. There is a hair dryer, iron and ironing board and a refrigerator in each room.

We will not be the only guests at the hotel, so remember to be courteous. Try not to congregate near the escalators – it causes a big traffic jam!

NOTE: We do NOT have access to the gym or pool at either of the hotels we stay at. No need to pack your swimsuit!


Yes, you will have a curfew.

We all will need our sleep for the long days of touring, and we understand that your parents or guardians expect you to be safely in your rooms. The curfew is listed on your schedule. The chaperones will do a room check every night to be certain everyone is in his or her assigned room.



Boys rooms = blue

Girls rooms = pink

There are NO purple rooms. Meaning, boys are NOT allowed in the girls’ rooms, and girls are NOT allowed in the boys’ rooms! Period.


Taking your cell phone is allowed (and encouraged), but out of respect for others around you, talking on your cell phone is discouraged during scheduled tour activities at memorials, monuments and other attractions.

Shelly’s cell phone number is 515-321-4276. Please provide it to your parent(s) or guardian(s) and advise them to use it to call her in an emergency or if they are unable to reach you on your cell phone.


We have partnered with Yapp to provide a free app for Iowa Youth Tour participants. You can download the mobile app and access information about our event from the convenience of your phone. Access the schedule, speakers, cooperative/sponsor lists, etc.


Visit  on your device and follow the instructions on the page

You'll be asked to install Yapp from the app store (if you don't have it already)


Bring your luggage with you to the meeting room when you come for the orientation.

Bring one bag (less than 50 pounds) to be checked by the airline. Your luggage outside dimension when added all together (length + height + width) may not exceed 62 inches. In addition you can carry on one small bag such as a book bag, purse or camera bag. No scissors, pocketknives, nail files or nail clippers are allowed with you on the plane.

The following rules apply to all liquids, gels and aerosols you want to carry through a security checkpoint.

All liquids, gels and aerosols must be in 3.4 oz or smaller containers. Larger containers that are half-full or toothpaste tubes rolled up are not allowed. Each container must be 3.4 oz or smaller.

All liquids, gels and aerosols must be placed in a single, quart-size, zip-top, clear plastic bag. Gallon-size bags or bags that are not zip-top (such as fold-over sandwich bags) are not allowed. Each traveler can use only one, quart-size, zip-top, clear plastic bag.

Each traveler must remove their quart-sized plastic, zip-top bag from their carry-on and place it in a bin or on the conveyor belt for X-ray screening. X-raying separately will allow Transportation Security Administration security officers to more easily examine the declared items.

Also, please take a few minutes to read the Transportation Security Administration’s prohibited items website before you pack for the trip.

Federal inspection rules are in effect at all airports. You will be asked to remove any coats, jackets and your shoes. We suggest you pack belts with metal buckles in your checked baggage since they may set off metal detectors and hold up the security process. Regulations require name and address tags on the outside of all checked luggage.

WHAT IS IN YOUR SWAG BAG?                                                                                                                    

Each of you will get a back bag. It will include things like a water bottle, rain poncho, cell phone charger, hand sanitizer, band aids, Kleenex.


On our travel days, we'll provide everyone a snack bag. We generally have enough time between flights, but on the outside chance we have to move quickly, we'll all have snacks handy. For anyone with dietary needs/allergies, we will have snack bags especially for them.


Your meals, lodging, travel, admissions and other necessary expenses are included in the cost of the tour.

A large amount of additional money is not advised. If you want souvenirs, cards and stamps or extra snacks, bring your own spending money for these items. 


Bring the toiletries, cosmetics and medication you need.

You also should include some stamps if you want to send postcards, a couple of pencils or pens and any personal-comfort items. If you wear or need glasses, we suggest you bring an extra pair. If you wear contacts, bring an extra set or a pair of glasses in case you lose a contact. You might want to bring sunglasses and sunscreen as well. Wear your watch and pack a small umbrella if you have one. We do provide a rain poncho. If you are taking prescription medication on a regular basis, make certain you have enough for the trip.


Since you are representing Iowa and Iowa’s electric cooperatives, it is important to be dressed in a tasteful and appropriate manner. Students and chaperones will be provided a Youth Tour shirt to wear each day. Wear with nice and appropriate jeans, nice shorts, capris or skirts.

How do we define nice shorts?

  • 3” inseam
  • No short shorts
  • Athletic shorts are OK (make sure they cover everything)
  • No heavy distressing
  • No spandex shorts

What not to wear: very low-rise skirts, short shorts, frayed/torn cut-offs, droopy drawers, clothing (including hats) with political (Iowa Youth Tour is a nonpolitical event) or suggestive and/or inappropriate printing (including alcohol or cigarette branding) are not allowed.

For evening events: bring a jacket or sweater in the event it gets cool.

Good, comfortable walking shoes are very important. Flip flops are allowed, however not always sturdy enough for a walking day on Youth Tour.

On Wednesday we will be visiting the U.S. Capitol and meeting with Iowa’s congressional delegation and we will all have nice matching polos. Please wear khaki pants, skirt, nice (not short-short) shorts or capris.

The weather in June in Washington, D.C. can be hot and humid. It also can be cool in the evening.

If there is any confusion as to if something is appropriate or not, the Youth Tour Director has the final say. 


I cannot emphasize enough the need for good shoes on Youth Tour!! We will be doing a lot of walking (6-10 miles a day), so bring comfortable shoes. Flip-flops are allowed on the tour, but just know we do a lot of walking and Washington, D.C. is a hilly city. Strappy sandals, however cute, can be a great source of blisters.

Sneakers and socks, Keens or other footwear designed for a lot of walking around are strongly recommended for the heavy walking days. I’m personally a fan of Chaco outdoor sandals and Birkenstocks. Saying all that, we will have a supply of bandages with us just in case a blister or two develops.

Having done Youth Tour for several years, I (Shelly) generally have a pair of sneakers, flip flops and/or sandals with me each day. I switch shoes throughout the day, which I have found really (REALLY!) helps.

If you are not naturally active, I would also encourage you to get into the habit of walking prior to Youth Tour.


Shelly York, a 35+-year employee at the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives, is the tour director and lead chaperone. She is an old hand at youth trips. She's been leading Iowa Youth Tour since 2010.

Thresa Stone, is the Assistant YT Director and this is her third Youth Tour and she’s super excited for the trip (and it is contagious!). She is an employee at the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives and played a key role in planning this year's Iowa Youth Tour!

Clayton Merritt, a true Youth Tour fan! He went as a student in 2012, as the YT intern in 2019 and joined us as a full-fledged chaperone in 2022, 2023 and 2024. Clayton is a nurse practitioner.

Darren (DJ) and Jody Johnson, these two will be fast favorites of the students. This is their third Youth Tour and will be heading up our Snack Cooperative efforts. DJ works in Member Services at Prairie Energy Cooperative.

Kyra Wolterman, is the Youth Tour intern this summer. She is responsible for taking and uploading photos, posting to the Iowa Youth Tour social media platforms, serving as a travel group lead and posting to the Iowa Youth Tour blog.

All adults have had background checks run to ensure that we are providing the highest quality program we can.


During Iowa Youth Tour 2024 the students will be forming and running their own cooperative, which will provide snacks for Iowa’s Youth Tour participants. This project is educational, practical and accomplishes two things. First, it provides snacks at reasonable prices and second, it teaches everyone about starting and operating a cooperative and being a co-op “member-owner.”

The co-op will be structured very similar to electric cooperatives or other local member-owned cooperatives, but on a much smaller scale. The main difference is that this co-op will provide snacks for the members (Youth Tour students and chaperones) while on the trip.

The co-op board and manager will plan, develop and hold an “annual meeting,” on Thursday of Youth Tour, at which time they will report to the members on the co-op’s operations during the week in Washington. At that point, the board will declare an end to operations and move to officially dissolve the co-op. If there are any “margins,” or funds remaining after operations are closed, the board will then consider a method of returning these margins to the members through a form of “capital credits/patronage.”

ALL STUDENTS: BY MAY 17 - Please go to this link and rank your interest in each of the Snack Cooperative roles >

And, here's your chance to let the snack cooperative know what you'd like them to keep in their inventory >


We’d like all students (and parents too!) to take a minute and watch this presentation. We are passionate about the cooperative business model, and we want to share our enthusiasm with you, so we put this short Prezi together.

Students! You never know, there might be a prize for those that can answer some co-op questions while we are touring around DC!

Please watch!


Facebook: We have a 2024 Iowa Youth Tour group on Facebook (  If you are on Facebook and not yet in the group, send me a friend request ( and I will add you. Or simply request to join the group. Parents/guardians are MORE THAN WELCOME to be members of our Facebook group.

Be sure and “like” the Iowa Youth Tour Facebook page. We’ll post all of the photos we take on that page. Tell your friends and family to like the page also!

X (formerly Twitter): We will be tweeting while in D.C. Our handle is @IowaYouthTour

Instagram: iowayouthtour

Snapchat: iowayouthtour

TikTok: iowayouthtour

Blog: We have started a blog for the Iowa Youth Tour program. The address is I will be blogging in the days leading up to the trip and during it. If you would like to be a blogger for the day, just let me know! Be sure and share the blog address with your friends and family so they can track your Youth Tour adventures.


The Iowa Electric Cooperative Living magazine will publish photos and student quotes in an edition of the magazine. Toward the end of the trip, I will ask for quotes about Youth Tour for the editor to publish. If she chooses your quote, it’s $25 in your pocket! And if you want to submit a photo for consideration for the cover of the magazine, please do. That will earn you $100!

DO WE ATTEND CHURCH ON SUNDAY OF YOUTH TOUR?                                                              

That is our travel day to DC, and we will not be attending church that Sunday.

YOUTH LEADERSHIP COUNCIL                                                                                     

Each state that participates in Youth Tour selects one student to be a part of this national group.

In 1976, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association's (NRECA – the national association for America’s electric cooperatives) Board of Directors created the Youth Consulting Board (YCB) as a joint effort of local electric cooperatives, electric cooperative statewide associations and NRECA, to provide an extension of youth activities at the state and local level. The representatives are selected by the Youth Tour directors and are announced each year during the Youth Tour in Washington, D.C.

These young leaders will meet virtually throughout 2024 (and early 2025) and participate in leadership training, polish their public speaking skills (yes, they’ll be writing and giving a speech), attend co-op forums, and be responsible for a cooperative-themed project.

The Youth Leadership Council representative will attend the 2025 NRECA Annual Meeting, held in Atlanta, GA. Here, the group will spend a few days reflecting on the experiences they’ve had throughout the year, attend informational and entertaining conference sessions alongside electric cooperative leaders from throughout the country, and solidify lifelong friendships and connections! The dates for this all-expense paid trip to Atlanta are March 7 – March 12, 2025.  The Iowa Youth Tour Director, Shelly York, will travel to and from Atlanta with Iowa's YLC.

In addition, the student chosen to represent Iowa on the YLC will:

Receive a $1,000 college scholarship from the Pioneers Trust Fund (a trust administered by the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives).

Attend the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives’ Annual Meeting in December to give their YLC speech

More details/application:

WHAT’S A "BLUE SHIRT"?                                                                                                

A few former Youth Tour delegates apply to serve as staff assistance during Youth Tour. They are commonly referred to as “blue shirts” because they wear blue shirts. Most of them are in college. They work for NRECA (the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association) and are considered chaperones also.


We will go through a security screening process that is similar to the screening process for traveling on an airplane when visiting the U.S. Capitol, congressional office buildings, the Holocaust Museum, Smithsonian museums and other buildings we visit. If or when the screening process seems quite time-consuming, please remember that it is for the safety and security of everyone in each building: you, other visitors, government employees and elected officials.  

Prohibited items in U.S. Capitol & U.S. Capitol Visitor Center

  • Bags exceeding the size of 18” wide x 14” high x 8.5” deep.
  • Firearms to include replica guns and ammunition.
  • Weapons (to include but not limited to):  Black jack, sling shot, sand club, sandbag, knuckles, electric stun guns, knives of any size including razors and box cutters, martial arts weapons or devices.  Staff may possess knives with blades 3" or less.
  • Pointed objects to include but not limited to knitting needles, letter openers, and other pointed objects deemed a possible threat. Pens and pencils are permitted.  This restriction does not apply to staff. 
  • Explosives and explosive devices to include, but not limited to, Molotov Cocktails, components of a destructive device, and fireworks.
  • Mace and pepper spray.
  • Liquid of any kind, including water and other beverages.  This restriction does not apply to staff.
  • Food of any kind, including fruit and unopened packaged food.  This restriction does not apply to staff.
  • Aerosol containers.
  • Non-Aerosol spray except for prescribed medical needs.
  • Sealed envelopes and packages.  This restriction does not apply to staff.

Prohibited items in the Senate Office Buildings, House Office Buildings

  • Bags exceeding the size of 18" wide x 14" high x 8.5" deep.
  • Firearms to include replica guns and ammunition.
  • Weapons (to include but not limited to):  Black jack, sling shot, sand club, sandbag, knuckles, electric stun guns, knives (with blades longer than 3”), razors, box cutters, martial arts weapons or devices.  Knives with blades 3" or less are permitted.
  • Explosives and explosive devices to include, but not limited to, Molotov Cocktails, components of a destructive device, and fireworks.
  • Pointed objects to include, but not limited to, knitting needles, letter openers, or other pointed objects deemed a possible threat. Pens and pencils are permitted. This restriction does not apply to staff.
  • Sealed envelopes and packages. This restriction does not apply to staff.

Prohibited items in the US Holocaust Memorial Museum

  • Aerosol containers or non-aerosol sprays (prescriptions for medical needs are permitted)
  • Weapons, including:
  • Electric stun guns, martial arts weapons, or similar devices
  • Guns, replica guns, or ammunition
  • Explosives of any kind, including fireworks and sparklers
  • Knives with a blade longer than 2.5 inches
  • Mace, tear gas, or pepper spray
  • Razors or box cutters
  • Coolers of any size
  • Wagons, Segways, bicycles, skateboards, or scooters (powered or manual)
  • Any flags on poles or sticks that do not fit into a backpack
  • Placards, signs, posters, banners, barriers, or balloons

NOTE: You may drink water from capped bottles at the USHMM

Prohibited items in the Smithsonians

  • Sharp items such as knives (including pocket or "Swiss Army" style knives), screwdrivers, scissors
  • Firearms
  • Pepper spray and Mace.

Word to the wise: goofing off in any security line is frowned on. It slows down the process and just irritates the security guards – something we don’t want to do! And, if you don't need your bag, don't take it. It just slows things down too!


You were selected by your sponsoring electric cooperative to join the 2024 Iowa Youth Tour of Washington, D.C. because you have measured up to the highest standards of leadership and good behavior.

Students representing Iowa’s electric cooperatives are expected to have a high standard of behavior, and these rules will be communicated to, and followed by all participants.

The students’ safety is our number one priority, and all of these rules are because of that focus.

  • Students must stay in groups of at least three.
  • If you see something that is not right (or does not feel right), say something to the authorities or a chaperone.
  • Be punctual. We have a very busy schedule and don’t want to hold buses or delay our schedule if we don’t have to.
  • Participate in all planned activities. Students will not be allowed to leave the group at any time.
  • Students will wear their name tag whenever they are not in their hotel room.
  • Talking on cell phones or texting is discouraged during scheduled tour activities, at memorials, monuments and other attractions.
  • Students must be in their hotel rooms at the time designated by the tour director or chaperones. Students are not to leave their room after this hour except with special permission and in the company of a chaperone. Room checks will be made each night, and wake-up calls will be provided each morning. Only visitors allowed in a student’s room is another Iowa Youth Tour student of the same gender.
  • Students will share a room with at least one other participant and will be expected to respect the rights of others. After curfew, students will be expected to stay in their room, be ready for bed and reasonably quiet so others may sleep. Students will not be allowed to visit other rooms or have visitors in their room after curfew.
  • The expectation is for everyone to treat their hotel room with respect. Students will be held responsible if any damage is caused.  Be mindful of noise in hotels; do not run in the hallways or slam doors.
  • Students must remain at the hotel at all times except when they are participating in planned activities. Students will not be allowed to leave the hotel to visit relatives or friends in the area, go shopping or attend other events individually. For the safety of everyone, students should not invite friends or relatives to meet up with them while in DC.
  • Smoking, vaping or using other tobacco products, consuming alcoholic beverages or using other drugs is prohibited.
  • Our bus must be kept neat and clean. Loud noises should be kept to a minimum. Students will be held responsible if any damage is caused.
  • Students and chaperones are solely responsible for their own belongings.
  • No one should make insensitive remarks about people who may look or act differently.
  • Students should be aware of their surroundings and exercise good judgment at all times.
  • Students will be required to observe all security rules.

A violation of these rules governing conduct or behavior that the Youth Tour Director deems to be a violation of trust, will be considered cause for terminating participation. Students will be sent home at their family’s expense.


Social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, YouTube, personal texting, and others, are powerful tools of communication that can have significant impact on your personal reputation as well as the reputations of the cooperative you are representing, the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives (IAEC) and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA).

Your parent/guardian and you must read and sign this contract (there’s a link to this contract in the welcome letter that was emailed to you) acknowledging personal responsibility to use social media responsibly as a cooperative representative, and a representative of IAEC/NRECA on Youth Tour. Please adhere to the following rules and guidelines when posting on Social Media sites while on Youth Tour or thereafter concerning Youth Tour.

Think twice before posting. Privacy does not exist in the world of social media. Even if you think the information will disappear after a few hours, an image, with your name attached, can last a lifetime. Consider what could happen if a post becomes widely known and how that may reflect on your reputation, the reputation of your family and friends, the reputation of your cooperative, IAEC and NRECA. Moreover, the information you place online could jeopardize your future when applying to college or for a job for years after Youth Tour.

Always be authentic. Be honest about your identity. If you post personally or use a Youth Tour hashtag, make sure you are being a positive representative of your cooperative, IAEC and NRECA Youth Tour.

When posting on social media while on Youth Tour, you will not be disrespectful, disingenuous, inappropriate or offensive.

Never pretend to be someone else when you post personally or as a Youth Tour representative.

Be respectful and thoughtful. Youth Tour participants are committed to showing respect and dignity for all people and to the civil and thoughtful discussion of opposing ideas. Treat others the way you would like them to treat you on social media sites.

Know the rules. Become familiar with the terms of service and policies of the social media sites and networks in which you participate, and the appropriate code of ethics required for responsible online communications.

If you have a question about something you want to post, please ask a chaperone. Students who engage in inappropriate use of social media sites, including electronic text, may be required to remove all posts in question from social media sites, be required to show chaperones their social media sites when asked or be sent home at the expense of their parent(s), or be subject to any other actions that may be appropriate or required based on the circumstances.

These guidelines and rules are non-negotiable and the consequences are dependent on the degree of misuse of social media.


Keep hydrated! We will have water available. We keep a couple coolers on the bus full of cold water, and will be pushing you to drink water all day, every day. PRO TIP: in the three days leading up to Youth Tour, drink a gallon of water each day.

Arrive well rested and be prepared to WALK! The average day goes from about 7 a.m. to 10 or 10:30 p.m. Yes, this is a long day, and you will be on the go a lot, however, no one ever wishes they had slept more during Youth Tour.

If you don’t feel well, tell a chaperone. There are two nurses on call 24-hours a day during Youth Tour.

Wear comfortable shoes – we cannot say this enough!

All students will get assigned a number. All you have to do is remember your number (it is listed in our app). Each time we leave someplace we count off.  Never left anyone behind … don’t plan to this year either!

Be sure to look BOTH ways before crossing a street. We know this seems like elementary advice, but DC is a busy city and drivers don't always see walkers. Trust us on this one!

If you have ANY questions at all, please contact Shelly York at

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