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Dear 2020 Youth Tour winners:

There’s only one way to say it – we’re going to miss you dearly! This is the month that you would join hundreds of students across the country to embark on one of the greatest trips of your life. Along with the 40 other participants from Iowa, you would start the weeklong journey as strangers and end the trip as lifelong friends. 

During the days in our nation’s capital, you would walk in the footsteps of history alongside some of our country’s greatest leaders. Your eyes would light up in amazement as you climbed the stairs to see the larger-than-life marble statue of Abraham Lincoln, who served as our country’s 16th president. Walking down the 58 steps to the plaza level, the reflecting pool would lead your gaze to the Washington Monument. A beacon of symbolism and stature, the monument embodies the awe, respect and gratitude the nation feels for its founding father.

You would be humbled while observing the war memorials, realizing the incredible sacrifices these men and women made in serving our country and protecting our freedoms. It might have been hard for you not to become emotional after seeing row after row after row of names along the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. When your Youth Tour group placed a ceremonial wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, the magnitude of the experience would leave you breathless. The steady and unwavering cadence of the military service personnel guarding the tomb would provide a sense of comfort at the strength of those who serve.

We would take pride in knowing that you’re learning about how the cooperative business model works and that your voice matters when it comes to politics and government. You’ll always want to remember that point – you can make a difference. We would cherish the stories you tell of this life-changing experience at your local co-op’s annual meeting. 

Every summer, the readers of this magazine look forward to experiencing history through the eyes of Iowa’s Youth Tour participants. We can feel your energy and enthusiasm in every photo. We celebrate how the experience impacts you and contributes to the path you’ll eventually choose in life.

In the big picture of your life, we know you’ll have many incredible experiences. For many of you who were selected for this year’s Youth Tour, you’ll be able to go on the trip next year. It will be worth the wait – for you and for those of us eagerly anticipating hearing from you when you return. You are tomorrow’s leaders, and we’re proud of you. You were selected for this incredible opportunity because you earned it, making the joy of the experience that much sweeter. By watching you grow and expand the limitless boundaries of learning, we know our future is in capable hands. 

This year, reminiscing about the great Youth Tours of the past 61 years will have to suffice. On behalf of our readers, we’ll miss you. We’re already counting down the days until next year’s trip.

Best Regards,  

Ann Thelen, editor, Living with Energy in Iowa


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