Youth Tour 2022: An Unforgettable Experience

August 26, 2022

Enjoy the following review of the 2022 Youth Tour from Stearns Electric student delegate, Cambel Shepherd. Cambel will also be a special guest at the 2023 Annual Meeting to give a brief report of her Youth Tour experience.

Dear Stearns Electric Association,

Thank you for your sponsorship to represent Stearns Electric Association and attend the 2022 Rural Electric Youth Tour in Washington D.C. The tour was a truly unique experience and provided the opportunity to meet so many other delegates from across the country. Touring many famous museums and especially attending Capitol Hill Day made the experience unforgettable. I connected with youth from across the country and from the very first night our Minnesota group met delegates from Texas, Florida, Georgia, and about 5 other states. Periodically throughout the rest of the week, we continued to run into delegates from different states. I made so many life-long friends and memories on this trip and I could not be more thankful to Stearns Electric Co-operative Association.

The entire tour from start to finish was highly organized and ran smoothly under the guidance of our group leader, Gayle Karol, and several chaperones. On our first full day we went on a guided tour of the Potomac Park monuments, visited the Arlington Cemetery, Lafayette Square, the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, Georgetown Waterfront, Potomac River Sightseeing Cruise, and the International Spy Museum. Every single day of the Youth Tour was just as packed, and we covered many miles. One might assume that it is not possible to see almost all the tourist attractions in D.C. in 5 days, but on the Youth Tour, it is. The next day was Capitol Hill Day where we met with our Minnesota State senators and representatives. It was such an honor to be presented with the opportunity to meet Senator Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Angie Craig, Rep. Dean Phillips, Rep. Pete Stauber, and Rep. Michelle Fischbach’s assistant. We were able to ask them questions about our local and federal electrical cooperatives. Rep. Dean Phillips highly recommended interning in the Capitol one day. Rep. Michelle Fischbach was unavailable that day, but her assistant was able to meet with us. She told us exactly how she became an intern at the Capitol Building and how she built her education to empower her future in politics. As a high school student building a career for politics and law, I found her advice and insight extremely helpful and important. I also delivered my own speech to our group of delegates as I was one of several youth applying to be the Minnesota representative for the Youth Leadership Council.

There was never a dull moment on the Youth Tour. On the way back from the baseball game, the whole bus broke out singing, “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey. This happened many times throughout the Youth Tour, each time a different song but with a higher amount of energy each time. I also loved Mt. Vernon; it was very enlightening. I was able to see George Washington’s estate and enjoy its history. We traveled to the Smithsonian Zoo, where my friends and I enjoyed different animal exhibits. It also happened to be 100 degrees that day, but we all made the most of it and had as much fun as possible. Some nights after a long busy day we would spend the rest of the evening in the game room with leaders from previous Youth Tours. I was very intrigued to hear from the different delegates and where they live and what their life is like. On nights when we were not in the game room, we were up on the rooftop ballroom sitting in a large circle playing cards. On the last night, we all had many leftover snacks in our rooms, so we all sat in the hallway, and had a picnic to share our snacks while pretending we were not leaving the next morning. Even then on the plane home my friends and I sat together in row 25 and we talked the entire time, it did not even feel like a two-hour flight.

I cannot pick my favorite memory of my trip to D.C. because every moment I had was amazing and eye-opening. The hardest part about the trip was going home and leaving my friends. We continue to connect via our group chat almost every day. I enthusiastically recommend future students apply to their local Co-op for the opportunity to attend the D.C. Youth Tour trip and learn more about the importance of public policy, understand how our legislative process works and learn more about electric cooperatives. Thank you again to Stearns Electric Association Board, all community members, and the Minnesota Rural Electric Association.


Cambel Shepherd
Saint John’s Prep – Class of 2023