Eagle resident Katie Townsend can't vote yet, but she is more involved in politics than most adults.
The Eagle Valley High School freshman campaigned for Mitt Romney from August up to the election Nov. 6. She even got to meet the Republican presidential candidate.
She did a lot of volunteering with the Eagle County Republicans and got her parents to drive her to Denver on two occasions when Romney appeared at rallies.
"I was in the front row," she said. "He came up, shook my hand and said he was impressed with how young and involved I was. If he had been elected, I was planning to go to his inauguration in hopes that he might remember me."
The teenager spent election night with her fellow Eagle County GOP members.
"We were disappointed, of course," she said. "I cried and got really emotional because I had worked so hard on the campaign, but I don't regret it. On the next presidential election, I'll be just as involved and I'll be able to vote."
"Katie takes herself seriously, dresses like a professional and works incredibly hard," said Nicole Dewell, who teaches English and social studies at EVHS. "She also has a huge heart and is very concerned about other people."
Dewell said there were other students who worked on campaigns but Townsend seemed to be the most involved.
"I was impressed she would take all this time as a teenager for something she believes in and when she can't even vote," Dewell said. "She came back from the Romney rally and gave a presentation to the class. Her message was very bipartisan: 'get out there and vote, get involved.'"
At school, Townsend participates in Future Business Leaders of America and Devils Against Destructive Decisions (DADD).
"I've been interested in politics ever since I learned about it in fifth grade," Townsend said. "I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of."
Her family played a role as well. Townsend's dad, John, is a registered Democrat who grew up sharing family dinners with Hubert Humphrey in South Dakota. Humphrey served as Vice President of the United States
with President Lyndon Johnson from 1964-65.
Katie Townsend's mom is a Republican, so dinner conversations can get lively.
"My dad owns an electrical company and my mom stays at home - the stereotype is that their political parties should be the other way around," Townsend said.
She said her dad is very supportive of whatever she does, even when their politics don't agree.
"I think she's making a difference," John Townsend said. "She's pretty smart. I can honestly say I never did anything like this when I was a kid. She has a mind of her own. Sometimes I look at her and think, 'Enjoy your childhood because you only get it once.'"
Townsend also has four brothers who are all in their 20s and living on their own. She said being surrounded by much older people all the time has contributed to her maturity and interests.
As far as dressing in professional attire, she said it helps her feel good about herself.
"I feel more confident and prepared when I'm well-dressed," she said.
Meanwhile, she is still stressing the message - vote!
"It's really upsetting to hear people complain about politics when they haven't voted," she said.