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Rural Missouri Magazine

All for the kids

AMEC executive vice president Barry Hart
by Barry Hart

Recently, employees of Central Electric Power Cooperative stopped by the special Learning Center in Jefferson City with a big surprise: a check for $4,600. Central’s employees raised the money through a variety of activities. Their annual efforts to help this school for disabled children started eight years ago when kids from the school paid a visit to the cooperative’s office. The latest check brings the total contributed by the power supply cooperative’s big-hearted employees to $28,000.

Central Power’s efforts are typical of what is being done to help youth at electric cooperatives around the state. For most of their existence, electric cooperatives have supported youth activities of all kinds. Whether by contributing funds to worthy organizations such as the Special Learning Center, opening community rooms to Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts or sponsoring activities that turn young people into leaders, you can bet an electric cooperative plays a big role.

For example, this time of year many electric cooperatives are gearing up to select delegates to the Rural Electric Youth Tour to Washington, D.C. In June, the Youth Tour program will send 86 high school seniors on a trip of a lifetime to our nation’s capital. We know from past experience that these youth will come back armed with great respect for our nation and newfound leadership skills after touring the monuments and meeting with elected officials.

Another youth activity that has grown tremendously since its inception is CYCLE, or Cooperative Youth Conference and Leadership Experience. This program, now in its sixth year, is an intense and fun-filled experience in Jefferson City that teaches participants about the cooperative program and lets them experience state government firsthand.

Electric cooperatives have long supported the activities of the 4-H program. On a statewide level, electric cooperatives help sponsor the annual 4-H Leadership Conference held at the University of Missouri. For the past two years, members of the Rural Missouri staff have helped educate the 4-H Photo Corps. And you will find electric co-op employees serving as 4-H project leaders — and good role models — all around the state.

FFA is another group electric cooperatives are proud to support. At the annual State FFA banquet, the group’s Emerging Ag Technology Proficiency Awards are sponsored by the electric cooperatives. Missouri’s electric cooperatives also contribute to ALOT, or Ag Leaders of Tomorrow. Many of the best and brightest ag leaders in the state list the ALOT program on their resumes.

Around the state, young people benefit from college scholarships given by electric cooperatives such as Gascosage and Lewis County. White River Valley’s scholarship program has topped $1 million and the co-op also gives grants to teachers. The Area Youth Benefit Fund created by Farmers’ Electric Cooperative has contributed more than $300,000 to pay medical bills for sick children. Webster Electric helps sponsor a golf tournament that last year contributed $34,000 to children’s charities in the Ozarks.

Last year, Central Power’s Education Specialist Keith Mueller, who works on behalf of eight central Missouri cooperatives, brought a safety message to 5,045 students in 42 schools. Sho-Me Power offers a similar program to its member systems. The list goes on and on, from Barry Electric’s huge turnout to help remodel a camp for special needs children to the contributions to youth from the Operation Round-Up program at SEMO Electric.

These are just a few of the many, many youth needs that are being met by electric cooperatives.

Our desire to help young people succeed is a reflection of the seventh cooperative principle, “Concern for Community.” Electric cooperative employees are inspired by seeing the success achieved by the young people they have helped.

This focus on youth is just another example of how cooperatives bring more than just electricity to their communities.

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

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Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives

Rural Missouri
2722 E. McCarty Street
P.O. Box 1645 • Jefferson City, Mo. 65102
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