A Lesson in Leadership
Around 1,000 high school students from across the country, representing their local electric cooperatives, had the unique opportunity to learn about leadership and public service in the nation's capital. Four students representing Jackson EMC were among the delegates.
“Meeting our senators on the steps of the U.S. Capitol was surreal,” said Jillian Vacha, a junior at North Gwinnett High School, who was one of Jackson EMC’s student delegates on the Washington Youth Tour. “It was the coolest experience and meeting them helped me recognize the influence young people can have on the government.”
The Washington Youth Tour celebrated its 57th year in Georgia as the premier leadership development program for many EMCs’ youth activities. Delegates from Jackson EMC were selected based on academics, community service, oral and written communication skills, letters of recommendation and a personal interview. More than 70 students representing Georgia’s electric cooperatives began their experience with team-building activities in Atlanta. They then had a special tour of the Little White House in Warm Springs, where they learned about President Franklin Roosevelt’s role in the history of electric cooperatives.
Once in Washington, D.C., students visited the Lincoln Memorial, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, Mount Vernon, the U.S. Air Force and Pentagon 9/11 memorials, the Smithsonian museums and more. While at the Capitol, youth tour delegates met with members of the Georgia congressional delegation.
Jackson EMC’s youth tour delegates share their experiences from the Washington Youth Tour.
Jillian Vacha - North Gwinnett High School
ACTIVITIES: Gwinnett Student Leadership Team, Junior Economic Club of Atlanta, volunteer instructor at Mathnasium and Bharathanatyam classical dancer.
DID YOU LEARN A LESSON FROM YOUTH TOUR THAT YOU THINK WILL SERVE YOU WELL IN LIFE? “Whether it was staying up late with my roommate or sparking a conversation with a delegate from Illinois, I loved meeting students from across the nation. You realize how similar students are and how small the world really is.”
WHAT ONE PLACE OR ACTIVITY ON THE TOUR MADE THE GREATEST IMPRESSION ON YOU? “Direct access to senators and them being so open and helpful has greatly increased my interest in politics and government. I can’t wait to see where I go from here.”
Ansley Robinson - Madison County High School
ACTIVITIES: Volleyball, National Honor Society, Wind Ensemble, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and volunteer with Extra Special People.
HAS PARTICIPATION IN THE WASHINGTON YOUTH TOUR INFLUENCED OR CHANGED YOUR CAREER PLANS? "Touring the Capitol and listening to successful people gave me insight that makes me want to continue my plans to pursue law and public policy.”
DO YOU THINK THE YOUTH TOUR WILL HELP YOU BECOME A BETTER LEADER? “I think so because I was able to connect and build relationships with many new people on the tour. I also learned to use teamwork to solve problems.”
David Boers - Gwinnett Online Campus High School
ACTIVITIES: Model UN, Gwinnett Student Leadership Team, AV Director for Theatre and Fine Arts Program, gaming tournaments, and data and systems analysis expertise to local leaders.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE STOP ON THE TOUR? “The Marine Corps Sunset Parade was cool because we were around so many great people. I also enjoyed the Capitol and the White House stops.”
DO YOU THINK THE YOUTH TOUR WILL HELP YOU BECOME A BETTER LEADER? “Yes. Working with so many people definitely helped me learn about leading a group.”
Issac Miller - East Jackson Comprehensive High School
ACTIVITIES: National Art Honor Society, Student Council, Beta Club, Choral Program, church youth band and volunteer with iServe Ministries.
WHAT ONE PLACE OR ACTIVITY MADE THE GREATEST IMPRESSION ON YOU DURING THE TOUR? “The Vietnam Veterans Memorial had a powerful effect. Seeing all the names and knowing that many of them were as young as us had a strong effect on me.”
HAS PARTICIPATION IN THE WASHINGTON YOUTH TOUR INFLUENCED OR CHANGED YOUR CAREER PLANS? “It made me more interested in public policy.”