In 1958, a group of Iowa high-schoolers boarded a bus for Washington, D.C. It took two days to get there, and when they arrived it marked the start of a weeklong study tour that's still going strong six decades later.
They were the very first Youth Tour group, and Shelly York of the
Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives thought 60 years was an anniversary worth marking.
York tracked down and interviewed several of the 34 participants, now in their late 70s, for a story in
Living with Energy in Iowa, the statewide magazine.
Her research paid off.
"The statewide gave each student a packet of slides to make presentations at their co-ops, and one person I interviewed told me she still had the slides," said York, an executive assistant at the statewide in Des Moines, who handles Youth Tour for the state's 44 member co-ops.
The slides were digitized into about 100 photos. Some things look the same, such as the U.S. Capitol at night, but others look different. Teens dressed up a lot more 60 years ago. And today's itinerary includes stops at memorials that were built after 1958: the FDR Memorial and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, to name two.
But one thing has stayed the same. Youth Tour is a life-changing experience that inspires civic duty and a curiosity about the world outside home.
A recent letter from 1958 participant Janice Hale Larsen to York said: "Most importantly, I was left with the conviction that being a citizen mattered and that by voting I had an important voice in our government."
Here's a look "then and now" from the 1958 group and the 2017 and 2018 groups.
Getting to Washington
Still a Top Draw
Photo Gallery (All Photos Courtesy of IAEC)