Young women invited to explore powerful careers

by Jim Robertson, Staff Writer

Over the past couple of years, several curious young women in high school and college — even some who had completed school — gathered at the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Electric Cooperative Training Center in Palmyra, Va., for a unique opportunity. They experienced firsthand what it’s like to work on a utility line crew.

The 2023 Girl Power Camp is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 3, at the Palmyra Training Center. The one-day energy career experience is intended for high school girls interested or curious about working on a line crew, in a substation, as a drone operator, with advanced metering technology or as a fiber broadband technician. Instructors will lead students through various activities in the classroom and outdoors. Campers can expect to learn about safety on the job, including how to safely climb a utility pole, operate a bucket truck and operate a drone.

With more women taking on roles in the field, attracting them to the responsibilities and teamwork of a line crew remains a challenge. These types of operations roles often lead to a variety of leadership opportunities within an organization.

“It was a true learning experience with none of the performance pressure sometimes found in a classroom,” says Jane Baker, director of career and technical education and principal at Blue Ridge Technical School. “The variety was exceptional, and my students came back ‘pumped’ about the experience.”

Human resources professionals from various electric cooperatives throughout the three-state region also met individually with each student. They learned about students’ interests and explained the wide variety of career options at electric cooperatives. Students also had their resumes reviewed and learned some tips for answering interview questions. Finance professionals are expected to join the discussions this year, as well.

Madison County High School Principal Betty-Jo Wynham describes the event as a great example of how community partnerships can help expand learning beyond the classroom walls, and help students discover the diverse career opportunities available to them. “Hearing from women who are passionate about their careers in this industry and the pathways they took to get there, paired with hands-on learning experiences, was very powerful and proved to showcase career opportunities better than any human resources website,” says Wynham, who is also the career and technical education administrator at MCHS.

The camp is offered at no cost, thanks to the generosity of several industry partners with a passion for recruiting young women to the energy industry.

For more information or to register for this year’s Girl Power Camp, visit Space may be limited due to growing interest, so register early.