Rural Missouri Magazine

You would have been proud

by Barry Hart

by Barry Hart

Every year representatives from Missouri’s electric co-ops join their counterparts for the meeting of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. One of the meeting highlights is the chance to recognize those who are doing an exceptional job meeting the needs of the membership.

As a member of a Missouri electric cooperative, you would have been proud to be in the audience this year. That’s because our co-ops took home the lion’s share of awards presented by the national association.

The highest honor a rural electric employee or director can earn from NRECA is the Clyde T. Ellis Award. The award is named for the legendary first manager of NRECA known for his spellbinding speeches and crusades on behalf of rural America. No greater recipient could be found for this award than Frank Stork, former manager of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, who accepted the honor in February.

Rather than tout his own considerable achievements in his address to the members, Frank instead educated a new generation of electric cooperative leaders that were present about the man the award is named for and why we should continue his mission.

Many members of the Missouri delegation told me it was one of the best speeches they have ever heard.

Frank wasn’t the only Missourian to accept an award. Our Member Services Department at the association — Linda Bolten, Mike Marsch and Nikki Calvert — received NRECA’s National Community Service Award for CYCLE, or Cooperative Youth Conference and Leadership Experience.

This program grew out of a request by local cooperatives for a way to honor rural youth who show great promise as future leaders. CYCLE, now in its third year, brings these young men and women to the state capital where they are immersed in cooperative theory, legislative procedures and team-building activities.

The awards didn’t end there. NRECA could not provide the leadership they do without help from elected officials who share a vision for a revitalized rural America. Such a person is U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson. Time after time she has come through for your electric cooperative, and NRECA’s Distinguished Service Award was presented to her in thanks for all she has done.

Her efforts include expansion of the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program, which has funneled millions into community development projects. She has consistently fought for full funding of Rural Utilities Service loans that help electric co-ops continue the electric system reliability you expect. She’s also helped consumer-owned utilities keep their preferred status for use of the nation’s hydropower resources, the cleanest and least expensive source of power.

When we hear all the things Rep. Emerson has done for our state it makes us proud to know she is one of our own.

Missouri’s directors also came together to bring back a big honor. More Missouri directors earned Certified Cooperative Director status than any other state. AMEC President Carl Lowrance of Laclede Electric accepted this honor on our behalf. This award recognizes that Missouri’s directors are doing their part to arm themselves with the knowledge needed to ensure they make sound decisions for the future of their co-ops.

Awards are nice, but meetings like these excite us with new ideas, and those who attended returned home inspired to do great things. As long as the electric cooperatives continue our commitment to you, the member, and provide the service you expect, that is the best award for all of us.

Hart is executive vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.

E-mail Barry Hart

Rural Missouri is published by
The Association of Missouri
Electric Cooperatives


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