Youth Tour always gives teens the chance to talk with their elected officials in Washington. But how many get to go jogging with them?
If you're from Iowa, you do.
Since 2011, Iowa's young delegates have had the chance to go running with Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley. At 84, he's still an avid runner who logs about a dozen miles a week when in Washington.
Over the years, more than 150 young Iowans have participated in these annual runs with their senator. Twenty-three of the 37 teenagers on the tour braved the early wakeup time to take part this time around.
"They get to say they ran with a senator," a smiling Grassley said at the end of the 45-minute run covering about three miles through Arlington, Virginia, on June 13.
But the young runners get a lot more out of it than that. Grassley fielded questions on several different topics throughout the run, as various students jogged within earshot.
"We talked about why he likes to run," said Joe Anderson, 18, of George. "I got to know a bit about him on a personal level."
"I asked him when he comes back to Iowa, and he told me he's there every weekend," said Katelyn Langel, 17, of Le Mars.
Julia LaRue, 17, from Carroll, learned that Grassley runs at least four times a week while in the nation's capital. "We asked him about his farm and he told us that his son and grandson run it, but he enjoys spending time there."
Many of the Iowa youngsters described the run as a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
"He's very friendly and really took an interest in our questions," said Meghan McGuigan, 16, of Story City.
"We talked about ethanol. He explained his position in understandable terms, and knew a lot about the issue," said Sam Sirna, 16, also from Story City. "Talking to people provides a great opportunity to establish connections, and Senator Grassley was happy to do it."