Four Local Students Selected for Washington D.C. Leadership Trip

2015 WYT Students
Jackson EMC’s 2015 Washington Youth Tour Delegates, from left: Gwinnett County High School students Chris Larkins, Dacula; Kristen Gomez, Mill Creek; Kirtan Parekh, North Gwinnett; and Emily Bauer, Brookwood

(March 20, 2015, Jefferson, Ga.) — Gwinnett County High School students Kristen Gomez, Mill Creek; Emily Bauer, Brookwood; Chris Larkins, Dacula; and Kirtan Parekh, North Gwinnett were selected as Jackson EMC delegates for the 2015 Washington Youth Tour (WYT). 

Commemorating its 50th year, the WYT will take place June 11-18 when high school students from across the nation will meet in Washington D.C. to learn about leadership, teamwork, democracy and public service. The annual tour is the longest-running leadership program for teens and is sponsored by 38 electric membership cooperatives (EMCs) in Georgia, including Jackson EMC.

Delegates Gomez, daughter of Jorge and Marianne of Dacula; Bauer, daughter of Charles and Janice of Snellville; Larkins, son of Alan and Rosanne of Dacula; and Parekh son of Mehul and Nita of Suwanee will be part of Georgia’s largest contingent to date – 112 students representing 155 counties in Georgia. 

“For many of these teens, it’s a series of firsts; their first trip away from home, first plane ride, first time to D.C. and the first time to meet and create a personal network with others who have similar goals and plans in life,” said Kay Parks, Jackson EMC youth tour coordinator.

The Tour kicks-off in Atlanta with keynote speaker Rep. Brooks Coleman, chairman of the House Education Committee and Duluth resident. Rep. Coleman served 32 years with Gwinnett County Schools as a teacher, principal, curriculum director and assistant superintendent.

Paying tribute to those whose vision and sacrifice secured a free and open society is another key component of the WYT. The delegation will visit historic landmarks in the Nation’s Capital including Arlington National Cemetery, the Smithsonian museums, Holocaust Museum, Mount Vernon, Supreme Court, Capitol, Washington Monument, and the MLK, FDR, Jefferson, World War II and Lincoln memorials.  

Also in D.C., the Georgia delegation will join nearly 1,600 Youth Tour participants from co-ops across the country, providing an opportunity to meet and learn from a diverse group of peers representing nearly every state.

“When you don’t personally know everyone, you have the opportunity to make friends fast,” says Mountain View High School’s Michael Smith, a 2014 delegate from Jackson EMC. “Fast-made friends aren’t always longstanding friendships, but with the WYT, somehow they are. It’s the common experience that creates those strong bonds.” 

According to Chip Jakins, Jackson EMC president/CEO, the Youth Tour is an opportunity for “exceptional students to personally interact with members of Georgia’s congressional delegation and visit important landmarks. The trip provides a history lesson that can’t be learned from textbooks and classrooms,” he said.

The WYT was inspired by former president Lyndon Johnson who, in 1957, encouraged electric cooperatives “to send youngsters to the nation’s capital where they can actually see what the flag stands for and represents.”

Jackson EMC is a consumer-owned cooperative providing electricity and related services to more than 216,000 members in portions of 10 counties including Banks, Barrow, Clarke, Franklin, Gwinnett, Hall, Jackson, Lumpkin, Madison and Oglethorpe counties.

Learn more about youth programs and opportunities at