Power For Your Life Podcast | Season 1 - Episode 14 | Connecting With Today's Youth
Youth are the foundation for the future of our country. There are about 56 million students in our schools. Of those, around three to three and a half million graduate from high school each year. Electric cooperatives have a commitment to the communities we serve and there is a strong desire to help educate our young people about co-ops.
Stacy Howeth, director of member services for the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives and Chris Massman, vice president of member services for the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives share perspectives on educating today's youth through national and state efforts.
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Transcript – Power For Your Life – Season 1 | Episode 14
Original release date: September 1, 2020
Hello, my favorite thing about being a member of an electric cooperative is really the community that they bring into it. They've been able to offer my kids scholarships throughout their college years. And also, the payback that they give the refund or the profit sharing that we get once a year is awesome. So, thank you so much.
Darryll (Host): Welcome to the Power For Your Life podcast, where we focus on energy efficiency, the value of electric cooperative membership and safety around electricity. I'm Darryll Lindsey, your host. Today's topic, Connecting with Youth. My first guest today is Stacy Howeth from the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives. Stacy is the director of member services. Thanks for joining me today. Youth are the foundation for the future of our country. There are about 56 million students in our schools. Of those, around 3 to 3 ½ million graduate from high school each year. As electric cooperatives have a commitment to the communities we serve, there is also a strong desire to help educate our young people about co-ops. If you would Stacy talk about the Youth Tour to Washington D.C. and how co-ops in Oklahoma promote that.
Stacy (Guest): You know a lot of work goes into planning the trip for the students. We work about a year in advance getting things together and making reservations and working with hotels and the airlines. But if we fast-forward to the actual trip in traditional years, we all meet at a hotel in Oklahoma City. All of the students and their chaperones and the coordinators and have a quick little celebration and hit the sack and try to get a little bit asleep. And then we wake up super early and jump on a plane to Washington DC and the minute we touchdown---we usually fly into Baltimore so we can go see Fort McHenry there. The minute we touchdown we are, we hit the ground running and we are off jumping a bus or two buses actually. We typically have 85 people on the trip, 75 students and then ten chaperones including myself and another representative from OAEC who help coordinate the trip every year. And from I was going to say sun up to sundown but usually it's longer than that throughout the day. We have some long days on the trip because we don't want the students to miss any possible sight to see in Washington DC. During that week we hit every museum, every monument, every memorial that we can actually squeeze into a week for those students. That's been that's-that's been the traditional way of Youth Tour. This past year, as we all know, looked quite a bit different. We actually, well, our national organization-NRECA-ended up having to make the really tough decision to cancel Youth Tour this summer. We were actually able to cancel almost the entire trip without being out too much financially through cancellation fees. The timing was just right in the middle of everything-that you know everything was starting to close and everybody was just hoping at that point that if we could just make it to summer then we could all get back to normal. And as we know, that's not exactly what has happened. We’re already looking into 2021 and trying to look at logistics and see what that's going to look like next year. Normally at this time of year we are getting final numbers to mark co-ops; number of students that are planning to go. Usually right about this time with school starting co-ops are scheduling visits to schools to promote Youth Tour as well as our camp for eighth graders-Energy Camp. We’re usually sending out promotional materials, sharing lots of fun information about what we're going to do next summer, and we're just not able to do that at this time. We’re really having to look at logistics and just really having to dig deep to see if this is even going to be a possibility. We hope it is. We want nothing more than to be able to get back to normal or whatever is close to normal as we possibly can, but we're having to consider a lot of different options and a lot of logistical concerns at this time. As always, the safety of our students in our communities and our employees that serve as chaperones on the trip and our staff here are safety is our number one concern. That's-that's across the board with co-ops. This is just a little bit different avenue of safety that we're having to go down here.
Darryll (Host): You mentioned Energy Camp. Describe what 8th graders experience during that week long camp.
Stacy (Guest): In a normal year at Energy Camp, when we're able to gather there together, the students come in on a Tuesday afternoon. Right around lunchtime, we go through registration. We get cabin assignments; we get small group assignments and play some “get to know you” games. And have a lot of fun meeting other youth from across the state; meeting their new friends is what I always like to say because everybody leaves friends. So, Tuesday afternoon we get to do a lot of Ice Breakers and getting to know you learning what cooperatives are little Co-op 101 presentation and learn about the history of co-ops and the communities that we serve. And then throughout the week each day covers a lot of different topics. We try to-I try to share and provide a lot of information on leadership. Leadership and team building are huge for co-ops. And that is-anything that we can share with the youth of our communities and in those two veins are a priority for us. We also like to cover career readiness and career interests and promote those. Those thoughts and those ways of thinking for students. Eighth grade may seem a little bit too early to be thinking about careers for some people, but it's never too early in my opinion. And we're really grateful here in Oklahoma that actually the State Department of Education is developing a program for starting in 8th grade. So, it feeds right into the age group that we work with already in helping identify their career interests and develop some career readiness plans. So, we've already done a little bit of that camp before. But we will only build on that in future years as we get more resources from the State Department of Education. So we also talk about at camp on kind of the professional leadership side of things. We also talk about resumes and interview tips and tricks. The campers actually have a chance to apply to be a manager of camp and serve as a director on the board of directors to represent their small group. So, within that responsibility of becoming a director, they that that group of students actually interviews another group of students who have applied to be the manager. And so, it's really fun to watch this-these groups-this group of 8th graders interview their peers and it's-that's actually that is one of my very favorite moments of camp is to watch that group of
students who was selected as the board of directors to watch them basically transition from just a regular camper into this leadership role. And they take it very seriously. They-they get their paperwork; they get their list of questions; they take notes and they take their responsibility of selecting a manager for camp with the with the utmost respect. They-they select the manager and then they have the privilege of announcing the manager of camp that evening, which is just such a fun process to watch. And then the next day on they come in on a Tuesday afternoon; we have a full day Wednesday and then a full day Thursday we have a theme of life as a line worker. So, the campers are able to actually strap on climbing gear and try to climb a pole that we have set out there. We have a co-op that serves the camp and so they come in every couple of years and give us some new polls to climb because by the time you have about 80 eighth graders trying to climb up a whole it can-it can get a little wear and tear on it. So, we really appreciate that co-op coming in and making sure we have good resources and materials to use. So, the campers get a chance to try to climb a pole. We had that same co-op that's real close to camp bring us a couple of bucket trucks out and the students get a chance to go up in a bucket truck and see camp from several feet up in the air and take pictures. This past year, not 2020, but in 2019, the last time we were actually able to go to camp, we were able to add on several sessions to that day as a life of a line worker as
well as other careers that are available through cooperatives. Darryll, you came out and brought your drone and we have several campers that were so fascinated with that and how co-ops are using drones and drone footage to-not only in the communication side of things with the video footage, but also on the operations side of things. We've got several co-ops here in Oklahoma that use drones to monitor lines to assess storm damage, and lots of different
avenues using new technology. You also brought out the VR equipment to give campers a chance to walk through a coal facility, the coal plant. They-with this-with this age group of 8th graders, anything we can do with technology is just wonderful in their eyes. They’re-they’re way more advanced than any of us counselors at camp anyway. They probably know how to run all of that equipment better than we do. But they really enjoy it. And we were also able to provide a couple of electric bicycles. Co-ops brought those out for the students to ride, and they had a lot of fun with that. Most of the campers had never written an electric bicycle before. And then we also had one of our co-ops has a Tesla, an electric vehicle that they brought out. And also, a robot which was really cool. So, the students had a chance to sit in the drivers seat of the Tesla and watch all the gadgets and the bells and whistles work on the car and then they were also able to interact with the robot which was programmed with information about solar energy, and electric vehicles. And it was just a really neat way to watch the students interact and learn in a way that they may not have-they may not have realized it was a learning tool. They may have just thought they were interacting with the robot, but it was really fun to watch. And then on Friday morning we get up. We write thank you notes to our co-ops for supporting the students and the campers at camp and supporting Energy Camp-the whole program. We-we ask the students or the campers to write thank you notes to their parents and then we ask them to write thank you notes to themselves which we mail to them at a future date which is always really fun. Some of them act kind of silly and write silly things to themselves to their future selves anyway. But some of them take it very seriously and they set goals and I have no doubt whenever they open those letters from themselves later on down the road that they have achieved those goals. So, then we just pack up and everybody heads their own ways back to their corners of the state. We used to provide pen and paper for everybody to share their addresses. So, they could be pen pals and try to find each other later on at other youth programs and events, leadership things as they went out throughout their high school careers. But now it's too easy for ‘em. They just share each other’s-they they hold up their cell phones and take a picture of each other’s contact information. Or they add each other right there and then whenever they get signal, it goes ahead and connects them later. So, it's really neat. I joke around that it's too easy for them, but it's really neat how they can actually connect right there on the spot and stay friends-really forever with the connections that they've made right there in 8th grade. And as co-ops, and supporting our principle #7 concern for community and youth programs fall right into those community projects we could not be more excited and more proud to offer that opportunity for those students.
Darryll (Host): Stacy, what other things are co-ops involved with when it comes to educating our youth?
Stacy (Guest): If there are students involved in the communities we serve, we love to be a part of it. Some of the bigger activities that we do here in Oklahoma. And of course, they all look a little bit different this year, but I'll tell you about what they usually look like and how we are transitioning some of those activities to serve everybody in this kind of odd year here in 2020. So, we also have a sponsorship package that our co-ops are involved in that includes the Oklahoma State Fair in the fall as well as the Youth Expo of Oklahoma in the spring and a Leadership Summit, which is another activity that's in conjunction with the Youth Expo. At the State Fair in the fall here in Oklahoma, the Oklahoma’s Electric Cooperatives are the title sponsor of the Youth Livestock Show, which we are-we've we gained that partnership many years ago through one of our cooperative members here and here in the last couple of years, that organizational role has been switched over here to the statewide. So, for the past couple of years we've had the opportunity to watch that grow and to see how it works.
And to really see the impact that that makes that sponsorship makes on students all across the State. This year, the State Fair of Oklahoma has been cancelled along with many other states. However, the organizers of the spring livestock show have taken on the responsibility of providing a livestock show for the youth of Oklahoma this fall. That will be held over one weekend in September, and we are very excited to be the title sponsor for that. We usually give away lots of different trinkets and some fun stuff. This year we will be giving away face masks. We feel like that's a right on target, with everything that's going on, so we're excited to provide that to not only the exhibitors with their families and everybody else who is able to participate in that show. The other part of that sponsorship package, like I mentioned earlier, includes the Oklahoma Youth Expo, which is in the spring every year. It's the largest youth livestock show in the world is what it's touted as. We have yet to hear exactly what that's going to look like in the spring. That show is typically held right around spring break. An if you'll remember that's when everything started shifting last year so they were able to actually hold most of the show last year. And then they just-they ended up having to kind of rush the show to get it done within just a couple of days for the safety of everybody, but also trying to give exhibitors the opportunity to show those animals that they work so hard to prepare for over a year. So, we don't know exactly what that's going to look like in the spring this year. We are communicating with the organizers. Just like with everything else that's going on, nobody really knows what to expect. So, we are learning how to be patient and just wait day by day, month by month to see how things are going to shape up. The Leadership Summit, which is the other activity that goes along with the Youth Expo show. We will just have to wait and see you know how that's going to shape up as well. The Leadership Summit typically includes for all the co-ops that participate, they're able to select two students to come to the Oklahoma City Fairgrounds, and while they're at the fairgrounds, we have a Leadership Conference for them. It's a half-day. We have awesome instructors and presenters that get him up, get moving, get him out of their seats and really teach them some foundational leadership skills which they can carry for the rest of their life. And then at the end of their conference and their activities, we present them
with $500 scholarships, which is really nice whenever you're a senior and getting ready to go into college. So, that's what it typically looks like. Again, next spring, we'll just have to see, but we're hoping that we're able to do those programs, whether in the traditional way or maybe we need to look at some virtual options. We’re open to whatever we need to do. Another program that we are really proud of here in Oklahoma is our biz kids program. Biz Kids is a TV program on financial education and financial literacy through PBS. We- a couple of years ago, we partnered with a counsel that I serve on the board--the Oklahoma Council on Economic Education and it's our partnership with that council that-that makes it-makes us able to provide this program. Biz Kids is in a traditionally--I feel like I'm giving you true two versions of every program that we do. How it usually works and then what we're looking at this year. Traditionally, Biz Kids is an opportunity for co-op employees in their communities to partner with a school to go into the classroom and teach students about cooperatives, a cooperative business model to teach them about creating business plans and help them along the way. Because ultimately at the end of the program we have a competition. It's a student, cooperative, entrepreneurial competition where the students throughout that process with the help of their co-op consultants is what we call them--employees of co-ops that go into the classroom and help them with these projects. Those students actually create a cooperative. It can be a business; it can be a service. As long as it follows the cooperative business model, they can get as creative as they want. So, they put together a business plan. They put together a presentation with visuals and speaking parts. Most of them memorize their whole presentation and then they come to Oklahoma City in the Edmond area to one of the colleges here in Oklahoma City Metro area, and they present their business and their business plan and their cooperative ideas to a panel of judges Shark Tank style. And at the end of the day, the top three to four groups schools are narrow down and they actually present their plans on stage for the whole audience in front of judges and answer questions. And then the winner is selected, which is really exciting. That's so fun for us to be part of that program because, you know, usually in school you know whether it's grade school or junior high or high school, this
competition is for junior high students 6th through 8th grade. Whether you're in that window of education or even in college and beyond, there's not a lot of education on cooperatives. So, this is a really neat way that we can share the cooperative business model with not only junior high students, but their teachers, and then they go home, and they talk to their parents about it. So, there's a lot of layers and a lot of generations that we’re able to share the cooperative business model with through this program. This year we're looking at, well, actually, at this point, we're just kind of waiting to see what's going to happen with schools and see if the majority of students are going to be at school or if they're going to be working from home. This is a very group project-oriented competition. So, one of the challenges that we're looking at potentially for this year is if students will be able to collaborate on their projects and their cooperative business models or business plans or not. So, we are-we are ready and we are poised to make a transition and whatever direction we need to go or just-just kind of waiting at this point to see which direction it's going to go. And then the only other thing that I wanted to for sure mention today is-is to touch a little bit on that career readiness project that's going on here in Oklahoma. Starting this year, eighth graders will be required to take a career interest survey and create a plan an individual academic plan for the rest of their high school career. That includes not only classes in school, but also there's career techs located all around the state here in Oklahoma that offer courses to further their education, especially in the areas that they're interested in. But their plan also can include internships and experiential learning, job shadowing, which is really exciting for us because as employers in the communities that we serve, we can offer those students opportunities to come in an look at the business and look at the careers that are available in cooperatives. You know everything from accounting to actual line work. And like we were talking about with Energy Camp. It's-it's not just, it's not just line workers who work at cooperatives, it's everything. Cooperatives are businesses. There's a lot of things that happens behind the scenes that people don't necessarily think of first when they think of cooperatives. So, we're-we're super excited to get involved with that. Just this year through industry partnerships and through a partnership with the career tech system here in Oklahoma, we have added another career cluster is what--a cluster is what they call a group of careers. Once a student takes their interest survey, they get their results and they receive different career clusters based on their interests. So, a new career cluster has been created here in Oklahoma and it is energy. We have been a really integral part of helping put that together. We are so excited. Energy is one of the top industries here in Oklahoma and we are so excited to focus on that. Energy encompasses a lot of different aspects here in Oklahoma. But utilities and electric cooperatives definitely fall within that realm. So, we're excited to be part of that. That will actually kick off the release of that energy cluster and a big promotion of that will happen in October during “Careers In Energy” week in October. So, we're excited to be a part of that. More to come on that as we get a little bit closer to that October date. So those are just a few of the bigger projects that we have here in Oklahoma. As far as youth programs go, we have lots of other partnerships that we're excited to sponsor and be a part of. For me, I love youth programs and I would say there's no limit to the impact that we can make. We're only limited by our creativity.
Darryll (Host): If you would describe some of the specific details of how local co-ops are helping out the needs of their communities.
Stacy (Guest): Every co-op in Oklahoma and across the nation-as you've heard-they participate in these youth programs. They are doing things every day on behalf of their membership and to support the youths in their communities that they serve. But I wanted to share some of the specific things that co-ops are doing in their territories to help out with in light of the current situation. So, we have co-ops that have employees that have volunteered to mow, to pick up trash, to paint fences, to help organize and sanitize classrooms, just to give those typical maintenance employees at the schools an opportunity to catch up on other projects that are being asked of them because of the current situation. And we have several co-ops in the state who have-who have always had programs to help schools, whether it's school supplies or providing grants, sponsoring projects. But several of these, several of the traditional needs of schools have changed given the pandemic and the distance learning. So, we have most-most of our co-ops that typically do programs like that are currently in the process of asking schools what they need most. It's kind of the same situation for schools. Some schools don't know what they need just yet, but I think it's-it's reassuring for those school systems to know that the co-ops are here and ready to help whenever that list or those items become apparent of exactly what they need. We have-we have individuals that work at cooperatives who have taken it upon themselves to organize programs for students to receive food and nourishment throughout the summer. Just because of the networking and the connections that they have in the community, they've been able to organize that and help facilitate that for-for the youth in the communities they serve. It just doesn't get any better than that. And then on-on the more sophisticated side of things we have co-ops that are providing Internet access and Wi-Fi and fiber to the home as fast as they can to make sure that these students do have connections for-for distance learning if-if that's the direction that ends up happening for the schools in there in those communities. We also have some co-ops that have set up Wi-Fi opportunities in school parking lots, in restaurant parking lots. Doing homework in the car is probably not the you know the first choice by a lot of people. But sometimes you have to go wherever there's Wi-Fi. I certainly understand that to just get your projects done and we could not be more proud of the co-ops providing these resources for the communities they serve. No matter the challenge, no matter the situation that we're dealt, the cooperatives mission is-is unwavering. No matter the situation, and that's to support the youth in the communities we serve because they are certainly the future.
Darryll (Host): Some very interesting opportunities there in local service. Stacy Howeth….thanks for your perspective and I would encourage our listeners to contact your local electric cooperative for more details on these programs. Coming up next after a short break, my next guest shares his thoughts on youth education and member engagement….when I return.
Back with more of the Power For Your Life podcast. My next guest is Chris Massman, vice president of member services, with the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. Chris, thanks for joining me today. COVID-19 has caused us to take a totally new approach to just about every facet of our lives. One of your major initiatives to manage for Missouri's young co-op members is the Youth Tour to Washington DC. Describe how that was a little bit different this summer.
Chris (Guest): Obviously we had some major changes in the fact that we actually did cancel our trip out to Washington DC with the students. This is the first time in the 57-year history of the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour that we haven't had the opportunity since students out to our nation's capital. But when we started looking at it, obviously the health and well-being of our students was by far the priority. So, while it was a very tough decision to make, it was definitely the right one and an easy one when we started thinking about the health of our students. But despite the actual cancellation of the trip, we still wanted to give them that experience. They all earned their way on this to DC to earn this opportunity. So, we want to make still give them something for their efforts there. So, we started a virtual Youth Tour. We have one locally here in Missouri where we actually have met with the students about 10 times via Zoom. We go through games with them-talk about leadership opportunities-give ‘em that chance to get to know one another. Because that's really what that trip is about. So, it is making those connections and those lifelong friends while learning about electric cooperatives, federal government and leadership skills. So, while there was definitely a change in the fact that we didn't get to take the trip out to DC, the actual mission of the Youth Tour did not change. And that is again to really make connections with them-help them find that leader within themselves and I will tell you it's quite amazing that in the first Zoom meeting we had within the first 10 minutes, we had students already making connections. We could see in the chat feature of the Zoom room that we were in that they were asking questions kind of off of what we were doing and you could really see those connections starting to be made, which of course just is exactly what this trip is about. But we also have our national group-NRECA-that's doing a weekly virtual Youth Tour called YTO-Youth Tour Online-and the hashtag we're using and the theme of this is “Share Your Shine.” So, we're giving all of the students the opportunity to record videos of themselves; things they're passionate about, things they're trying to implement into their communities. And then we share that with not only the 2020 Youth Tour delegates, but any student that's ever gone on the Youth Tour before. So, they're getting quite an experience. We’re still getting to know them. We're still making those connections. And it turns out that the 2020 Youth Tour group is-is a pretty amazing group of students.
Darryll (Host): Not only are you involved with this national program, but you also manage a statewide youth initiative in Missouri called CYCLE--Cooperative Youth Conference and Leadership Experience. This year's event was cancelled because of the coronavirus. Chris, describe what young people experience.
Chris (Guest): Sure, CYCLE is a two-and-a-half-day conference we hold here in Jefferson City. And it's got three main objectives throughout the conference. One is to teach the students about state government, teaching about electric cooperatives. And really, most of all is to find that leadership qualities within themselves help develop that personal leadership skills. And then finally, of course, just like the Youth Tour, it's about making connections, making friends that are going to last a lifetime and just always have people to support you. So, going through kind of the day to day of cycle, you know the first day they come in and we actually are highlighted by we have a speaker from the group, Rachel's Challenge, which Rachel Scott was the first young lady who was killed in the Columbine school shooting in 1999, and her family now does presentations about surrounding yourself by positive influences and kindness and compassion. So, it really gets the students off-I mean-it's a breathtaking presentation that these folks put on and it really just warms the group up, helps them kind of get that comfort to start making better connections while at CYCLE. And really, just obviously that's just a great message about compassion and kindness, so. But really then then we get into day two-our full day. And that's what we're really get some cool experiences. So, the 2019 trip we really started including more leadership aspects into the CYCLE conference. So, we actually started taking them to the Winston Churchill Museum up in Fulton, Missouri. So, and then talk to them about his leadership styles and then great leadership styles from other people that we use-we call them examples and character. And just talk to ‘em. There is more than one way to lead. You have some of the folks that are natural leaders that stand up make the big speeches, big presentations. But there's also the guys that lead behind the scenes; that-this-are are there to get things done. So, if you're not the most comfortable getting out, talking in front of people, being the kind of the big personality, there's still so much leadership within each one of these students and it's kind of my responsibility and my teams and the chaperones at CYCLE to help bring that out of those students. And so, they can go home, take those back, implement those new leadership skills into their community, into their school, and ultimately help them kind of lead a better life. And then moving on from there, we actually go to an electric cooperative, so they get to see a distribution electric cooperative and see the day to day operations where we talked to him about all the different job opportunities that are within electric co-ops. 'Cause a lot of folks think lineman is the only position that exists when you think about electric cooperatives. But we talk to them about the communicators, accounting, management, safety personnel-there so many careers within electric cooperatives. So, we just make sure they get to know that a little bit. And then again we talk to that state government is such a big part of this. So, then we actually go over to the Capitol. We sit on the floor of the House of Representatives, which is just an unbelievable experience for the students. I mean, a lot of might have gone to the Capitol, but when you're sitting in the chairs of the folks that are getting things done on behalf of our great state, it's really a overwhelming experience for a lot of ‘em. And what we do while we're there is we actually have them the night before the students have selected a bill. They've gone through all of the separating the parties they've written the bills, drafted it. It's been through committees and… So, then it's time to debate once we get to the House floor. So, we elect our Speaker of the House who will stand up, introduce the bill. And then we get into the debate and you know you always sit there and you're like man-17 year-olds-are they really going to get into this? But we finally after two hours just have to be like-Alright guys, it's time we have to just decide whether we're going to pass this or not. And you know even some examples I will give you the bills we've-we've talked about and-and some are very serious and talking about things like drug testing before any type of financial aid is given, lowering student tuition to driver’s license checks and texting and driving to… We've had some really goofy ones like changing the state animal to the Sasquatch. Obviously it's all just for fun, but. No matter what the topic is, what the bill is... the students
get so engaged and just really dive into the experience. So that's obviously a really, really fun thing for us to see, and they learn a lot about state government, how it works. And we are very fortunate last year to have Governor Mike Parson come and talk to them and give him a little bit more education on how state government works. So really cool experience. Really great conference. It is a national award-winning conference. So, we're very proud of that fact. And again, our goal, our mission is to make each student better than what they came and then just on our end to keep making this a better conference every year.
Darryll (Host): What other youth education programs are Missouri's Electric Cooperatives involved in?
Chris (Guest): Obviously through Youth Tour through CYCLE and through some of these other organizations, I'll talk to you about obviously we look is that the youth as they’re-they're going to be the future leaders of our great state. So, we want to get them so ingrained and involved and understanding what electric cooperatives are? What are the opportunities within them? So, youth programs and youth education is something we take very seriously. And some of the other groups that we do a lot of work with are FFA, 4H. We don't necessarily do a lot of actual planning of events with those groups, but we either sponsor and usually go and actually take part in the-in the organization’s programs that they have just so we can get a better grasp on what they're talking about and making that connection about how electric cooperatives are so involved with agriculture. And those ties have really helped us a ton. And what we're seeing is a lot of those students that are involved with FFA and 4H are also former Youth Tour/CYCLE alumni. So, it's a way to keep that connection going. Getting to know them even more at that point, and even helping them with their future as they start looking for college opportunities and things like that and. And then when we get them through college, one of the groups that we work with that are college age students is AFA-the Agriculture Future of America. This is a group where we sponsor one student to go through the AFA Leadership Academy and then we actually give them a scholarship towards whatever university they choose, as long as it's in an agriculture field. This has been something we just started about three years ago, but we're making amazing connections with some of the students we've sponsored over the past couple of years and really getting them involved with the potential of a co-op career down the road. Because, again, like I mentioned earlier, there are so many opportunities for students within the co-op umbrella that they maybe didn't know before. So, AFA is definitely one of those that helps us get ourselves out there. You know that they only select about 2000 students from across the nation to attend this conference, so you got some of the best and brightest attending and their understanding that co-op as a career serious career choice down the road. And then one of the other youth experience youth programs we work with is called the Mizzou Youth Experience. This is something again we started about three or four years ago. It's a partnership with the University of Missouri and what it is, is we actually sponsor students from all of our local electric cooperatives and they we get
them together-take them out to Mizzou. And what it is, it gives all students the opportunity to one know that college is an opportunity for them. And it's also to show showcase all of the-all of the different types of majors and colleges within the university. So, it starts out-we take a bus trip up to Columbia. We will go out and in the parking lots of the Hearnes Center and Mizzou Arena. They have all the different colleges set up booths so you can go and talk to ‘em about potential careers there and what kind of education they required and all that and really just showing the scholarship opportunities that are available and again to really showcase no matter what your social background, your economic background, college is an opportunity for you. And then of course the fun side of that is after we do that, we getta go and we do a tailgate type thing inside Mizzou Arena with some of the baseball team. Some of the basketball team is there so you get to meet some of the student athletes, which is really cool experience for our for our kids that get to go. And then that evening we take in the Mizzou football game. So, they get to see some sports, learn about what Mizzou has to offer and this is a really great experience. We get nothing but glowing reviews from our students. And they just can't get enough of this. And the last group I will mention, and this is the AG Leaders of Tomorrow group or ALOT is there acronym. They're actually a group of young professionals that are in their first or second year of an agriculture-based career. And what we do with that group is we actually bring them out to our office here in Jefferson City. We go through all of what electric cooperatives are. Each of our departments put on some type of presentation and then we usually have about a one to two-hour Q&A session with them. Which were sitting there like man-that's a lot of questions. But just the fact that they're asking them their means they're intrigued and learning about electric cooperatives. So, it's a really great experience there where they kind of get the fundamentals, the foundation of what electric cooperatives are. And then we also sponsor that group to go to Associated Electric, the power supplier and learn how everything works on the power production side and all of all of the great things that they do for our member systems here in Missouri. And then the last thing we do with that group is actually sponsor them and send them out to NRECA headquarters, our national group so they can get a perspective from the national level. And all this time it's really making those connections and showing that agriculture and electric cooperatives are so ingrained in what we do and that we've got each other’s backs were there for each other. So, it's really… Those are just a few examples of some great things we're doing with high school, junior high all the way up through high school, college and then even your first couple years of professional work. So, like I said, youth education and just co-op education in general is very important to us. Electric cooperatives plan to be around for a long time and we're looking for the best and brightest that continue to make co-ops even better than what they are today.
Darryll (Host): Youth education. It's such an important opportunity for electric cooperatives to be involved in. Thanks to my two guests today, Chris Massman from the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives and Stacy Howeth from the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives. If you have a student that is interested in applying for these programs, contact your local electric cooperative today.