A trip that spans generations

One family reflects on their life-changing leadership opportunities through Youth Tour.


The Schulte family is no stranger to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Youth Tour. In fact, nine of the 10 Schulte siblings visited Washington D.C. while representing Butler Rural Electric Cooperative for the trip of a lifetime.

Youth Tour is an opportunity for high school sophomores and juniors to visit the nation’s capital for one week while meeting elected officials, touring monuments and memorials, and learning how electric cooperatives improve the quality of life in the communities they serve. More than 1,800 high school students attend Youth Tour every year.

The Schulte siblings accelerated their communication, leadership, and studies in high school, which made them perfect candidates to represent Butler Rural Electric Cooperative on Youth Tour. Many of them are now taking their skills to the next level, traveling the world, starting families, and graduating from prestigious colleges.

Where are they now?

Oldest siblings Daniel and Sarah still carry the memories from the 2003 and 2005 Youth Tours. Daniel is a graduate of St. Xavier, Harvard University, and is an assistant professor at the University College London. Sarah graduated from Mount Saint Joseph and is a freelance artists and owner of S. Schulte Design. She highlights visiting the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and how the experience has stayed with her for many years.

Anna was a Youth Tour participant in 2009 and is a nurse practitioner, working as a pediatric home care nurse in Honolulu, Hawaii. Anna’s highlights from the trip include the Arlington National Cemetery and Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. She encourages others to apply for Youth Tour and to do things in life that scare you.

Anna’s younger sisters, Rachel and Emmalee, attended Youth Tour in 2010 and 2013 and graduated from St. Mary’s College of Notre Dame. Rachel and Emmalee mentioned they are still in contact through social media with many other participants they met throughout the trip. “It definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone to travel with people I just met,” says Emmalee. “Challenge yourself and take the road less traveled,” Rachel emphasizes. “You never know who you will meet and where that may lead you.”

Elizabeth, who was a 2016 Youth Tour participant, also graduated from Saint Mary’s College and is working as a communications specialist and graphic designer. Elizabeth’s favorite stop on Youth Tour was the World War ll Memorial. Her advice to students going on Youth Tour is to get excited to learn new things and to get to know the people you’re on the trip with.

Jacob, a 2018 Youth Tour participant, will graduate from the University of Cincinnati and is now a project manager and geotechnical engineer. The Gettysburg Battlefield tour stood out to Jake as the most influential part of his journey. “Being able to stand and look over a place with so much history and significance made it worth it,” he says.

The ninth sibling, Zach, was excited to participate in the 2020 Youth Tour, but COVID-19 denied him and students across the nation the opportunity in 2020 and 2021. Julie, the mom of the Schulte siblings, shares that Zach was quite disappointed, thinking he had totally missed out on the trip.

Zach’s brother, Nathaniel, was next in line to participate in the 2022 Youth Tour and Zach was given the opportunity to attend the same year as a Youth Tour junior chaperone, marking the last leg for their family legacy. Both brothers recommend taking advantage of the trip. “This is an incredible opportunity to learn about our nation, its history, and its value,” says Zach. 

The Electric Cooperative Youth Tour has brought high school students to Washington, D.C., for a week in June every year since the late 1950s. Students apply and are selected for this program by their local electric cooperatives. Butler Rural Electric Cooperative believes students should see their nation’s capital up close, learn about the political process, and interact with their elected officials. All students who attend the Youth Tour trip are children of cooperative members.

“Although most of our children had gone on a D.C. trip in eighth grade, I have always been so very grateful for our children’s opportunity to visit D.C. with Butler Rural Electric Cooperative,” says Julie Schulte. “Not only were they a bit older and more aware, especially due to their advanced history lessons in high school, they were also treated to such a fine feast of good food, fun, and the freedom to conduct themselves like adults in the midst of a treasure trove of learning about our fine country.”