Co-ops and partners introduce high school students to careers the energy industry

NNEC’s Gena Boarman instructs a student while climbing.

Cooperation Among Cooperatives was in full bloom during the third annual Girl Power Camp, hosted by the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives and several of its member co-ops. More than 80 high school students from all over the commonwealth registered for this year’s interactive career experience at the Association’s training center in Palmyra, Va.

Thanks to contributions and support from 10 VMDAEC associate members, plus Dominion Energy, this year’s camp was a huge success. Students climbed poles, operated a bucket truck, used a hotline stick, piloted drones and tied wire while wearing rubber gloves used by lineworkers. They also learned about fiber splicing, interview and job searching best practices, and how to manage their finances.

Joy Yount of S&N Communications leads students through a fiber-splicing activity.

Staff from S&N Communications cooked and served lunch, which was extremely popular with the students. System operators from NOVEC, Debbie Campbell and Corina Daw, led a lunchtime discussion about career paths and opportunities within the cooperative industry. Other women in energy followed with their individual experiences.

Following some raffle prizes from Milwaukee Tool, the afternoon continued with more hands-on activities led by industry professionals from several electric cooperatives and other partners. A number of students were also able to sharpen their public speaking while being interviewed on camera with reporters from CBS 19 and NBC 29 out of Charlottesville. Both stations ran Friday evening coverage of the event.

Altec Area Manager Ashley Rutkowski engages with the young women while helping them operate the boom on one of the company’s new hybrid bucket trucks.

One unique characteristic of Girl Power is the cooperation and teamwork among 10 electric cooperatives working together to promote and execute the event. Co-op professionals led discussions about job interviewing, managing finances, helped students put on gear and climb poles, serve as media contacts, provided hard hats and more.

VMDAEC is beyond grateful for the continued and growing support of this important youth event by its associate members. Special thanks go out to Milwaukee Tool, Altec, Bradley Electro, Utility Sales Associates, S&N Communications, Sentinel Robotic Solutions, Bulwark, Utility Service Agency, Lekson Associates and Utilities Employees Credit Union. Personnel from Central Virginia Electric Cooperative, Craig-Botetourt Electric Cooperative, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, Northern Neck Electric Cooperative, BARC Electric Cooperative, Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative, Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative, Southside Electric Cooperative and Old Dominion Electric Cooperative were vital to this year’s success. The Association also thanks Dominion Energy for supporting and participating in the event.

–Report by Jim Robertson, Manager of Member Services, VMDAEC.

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