High school seniors to represent Bluebonnet at 2022 youth tour
2022 GYT youth tour winners

Representing Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative this June on the youth tour will be Jada Martin, left, a senior at Cedar Creek High School, and Keely Mikolajchak, right, a senior at Brenham High School. Creed Whitfill, center, is the alternate. He is a senior at Bastrop High School. Sarah Beal photo

By Alyssa Dussetschleger

A 4-H Livestock Ambassador who plans to be a policy analyst for agriculture and a budding entrepreneur who hopes to become a real estate agent will head to Washington, D.C., this summer as recipients of Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative’s 2022 Government-in-Action Youth Tour awards.

Keely Mikolajchak, a senior at Brenham High School, and Jada Martin, a senior at Cedar Creek High School, will represent Bluebonnet on the tour that has been an annual event for many decades. Creed Whitfill, a senior at Bastrop High School, is the alternate representative and will join the tour if one of the winners is unable to attend.

The recipients will each receive a $1,000 scholarship and tour the Texas Capitol and the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin before flying to Washington, D.C. The tour dates are June 12-21.

The two recipients and alternate were among eight finalists who applied and submitted a video on the topic: “What is the greatest energy issue facing your generation, and how can youths be a part of the solution?” Recipients were selected based on video presentations, extracurricular involvement, and school and community service.

Mikolajchak, 17, of Chappell Hill picked up the political bug after participating in an oratorical speech contest. It challenged her to discuss the role of the U. S. Constitution in her daily life. She became interested in agriculture economics and policy after visiting with state representatives at the Texas Capitol.

She is also involved with youth agriculture organizations, including 4-H and FFA. Mikolajchak has served in leadership roles as state 4-H Livestock Ambassador, Washington County 4-H president, and vice president of Area XI Future Farmers of America, which represents high schools in southeast Texas counties. She is also Brenham High School’s FFA president. In the fall, she’ll attend Texas A&M University and study agriculture economics.

During her video presentation, Mikolajchak discussed the potential of young people’s impact on innovative renewable energy resources. “As youths, we are the next leaders of our communities, nation and world,” she said. “We must take a stand and empower our society to look beyond traditional energy sources and look into the future of sustainability.”

Martin, 18, of Cedar Creek volunteers for the holiday Adopt-a-Family program in Cedar Creek as part of her involvement in National Honor Society. She also volunteers at the Bastrop Animal Shelter and at a City of Bastrop vaccine clinic. She held leadership roles for school organizations, including the National Honor Society, student council and LEO club, a youth organization of Lions Clubs International. Martin also played volleyball, tennis and ran track for the Cedar Creek Eagles. She plans to attend the University of Texas at San Antonio in the fall and major in business. After college, she plans to return to Bastrop County and open a real estate firm.

Martin became interested in government after meeting City of Bastrop Mayor Connie Schroeder while volunteering at the city’s vaccine clinic.

“I loved seeing our local politicians out in the community helping the citizens, and I realized there is a lot of good done behind the scenes,” she said. “When I heard about the Government-in-Action Youth Tour, I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn even more about the great things that are done for my generation at a higher level of government.”

Whitfill, 18, of Bastrop, is involved with Peer Assistance and Leadership at Bastrop ISD, as well as mentorship programs at his church. He has been involved with fundraisers, including the Peer Assistance and Leadership basketball fundraiser and Cougar Moats fishing tournament, which raises money for graduating high school students in Bastrop County.

Whitfill has also participated in community service projects, picking up trash and recyclables in Bastrop County and collecting canned foods for Thanksgiving meals for families in need. He plans to attend the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and study small business entrepreneurship and business management.

Mikolajchak and Martin will join 122 young people representing other Texas electric cooperatives and about 1,000 teens from other states in the nation’s capital, where they will visit historical sites and the U.S. Capitol, meet members of Congress and attend events hosted by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. NRECA represents more than 900 electric cooperatives across America.

The youth tour program has more than 50,000 alumni, including CEOs, state and national elected officials, and countless business and community leaders.

For more information, visit bluebonnet.coop/scholarships-youth-tour. Look for 2023 applications in the fall.