Washington Youth Tour


If you’re a junior attending Benson, Bowie, Buena, Patagonia, St. David, San Simon, Tombstone, Valley Union or Willcox high schools, attending a private or home schooled, you are eligible to compete for the next Washington Youth Tour!

The Program

Since 1981 Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative has sponsored six high school juniors on all-expense-paid trips to Washington, D.C., for one week each June. Students attend seminars and meetings sponsored by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, visit Congress and the White House and see the sights of our nation’s capital.

Funding for the annual Washington Youth Tour is supplied by the Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative Foundation. SSVEC follows legal requirements to return money (refundable deposits, fees and capital credits) to its members. If the cooperative is unable to locate individuals, the money is contributed to the Foundation. Previous to the establishment of the Foundation in 1984 such money was forfeited to the state of Arizona. Voluntary contributions to the Foundation are also accepted.

The Process

The Washington Youth Tour program is open to all high school juniors in schools served by SSVEC or to a high school junior living in SSVEC’s service area.

SSVEC representatives make a presentation in nine high schools to introduce the program. The high schools are San Simon, Bowie, Willcox, Valley Union (Elfrida), Tombstone, St. David, Benson, Buena (Sierra Vista) and Patagonia. Study materials are distributed and about one week later students take a qualifying test over the material. The test consists of 50 true-false questions. The highest scoring students from each school advance to the next level — the essay. The essays are scored by four judges. These judges are often teachers, journalists, directors of community or youth organizations or representatives from other cooperatives. Students with the top scoring essays advance to the semi-final level. They receive a packet of study materials on the subjects of cooperatives, rural electrification and energy. On the day of competition students take a test over these materials and have an interview with four judges. The essay, the exam and the interview are worth 100 points each (for a total of 300 points) to determine which students win all-expense-paid trips to Washington, D.C. Students who do not win earn $250 for their efforts and are given the option of attending the trip at their own expense (about $1,500).


The Tour

While in D.C., the tour participants visit famous sites such as the U.S. Capitol, Arlington National Cemetery, Smithsonian Museums, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and the Vietnam Memorial. They also travel to Washington’s Mount Vernon. They visit with their Congressmen, take an evening boat ride on the Potomac, and attend a stage show. In addition, tourers have the opportunity to get to know the more than 30 other students from across Arizona they will tour with and meet hundreds of students from other parts of the United States. The Arizona delegation includes SSVEC’s students as well as tourers from Trico Electric Cooperative, Mohave Electric Cooperative, Duncan Valley Electric Cooperative, Navopache Electric Cooperative, Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, and Tohono O’odham Utility Authority. For additional information, email Marcus Harston, or call him at 515-3475.

2023 Washington Youth Tour Info

  • School Presentations (Aug thru Sep 2022).
  • Essay Deadline (Oct 21, 2022-For Schools with Fall break)
  • Finals testing and interview (Nov 16, 2022) Benson Schools, Benson Arizona
  • Youth Tour trip June 2023 (exact date TBD)


Below is a media collection of prior year’s Washington Youth Tours

Get in Touch

We always love to hear from our student community. Feel free to drop in or contact us during our business hours.


Monday – Friday 8am – 4pm

Saturday Closed

Sunday Closed


DirectorMarcus Harston

Phone 520.515.3475

Email mharston@ssvec.com