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Education: a priority for electric co-ops

Chris Meyers
General Manager
Oklahoma Association of
Electric Cooperatives


This August, thousands of families are gearing up to go back to school, whether in person or virtually. Parents, children, teachers, administrators and college students are preparing as a new—and certainly different—school year unveils. The 2020-2021 academic year will be filled with unique challenges as COVID-19 remains active. Nonetheless, we press on with confidence that collectively we can face these challenges and continue investing in our future generations. Education is a big undertaking. For young ones, a good education sets their path of learning by empowering students to become critical-thinking adults and engaged citizens. Electric cooperatives take education seriously and are committed to investing in local schools. In Oklahoma, electric cooperatives are the only utility that has infrastructure in all 77 counties and provides gross receipts taxes to rural school districts across the state. In fact, for fiscal year 2019, the Oklahoma Tax Commission reports public school districts received about $43.7 million paid by electric cooperatives. 

Electric cooperatives throughout the state interact with local schools to provide electrical safety and energy education. This investment in education is also evident in the youth programs co-ops sponsor such as the Rural Electric Youth Tour—an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C.—for high school juniors, the YouthPower Energy Camp, a camp that engages eighth graders and educates them on the cooperative business model as well as various scholarships co-ops award to young people. 

Co-ops are grounded on Seven Cooperative Principles; one of these principles clearly demonstrates electric cooperatives’ commitment to education. The fifth cooperative principle “Education, Training and Information” shows that, for cooperatives, effective distribution and communication of knowledge is vital. Co-ops are committed to providing education and training opportunities to member-owners, elected representatives, managers and employees. In this edition of Oklahoma Living, we highlight Oklahoma’s CareerTech system and the positive impacts of this program in our workforce. Of note, the CareerTech system is unveiling a new career cluster this fall, the “Energy Cluster,” which will be a benefit to young adults seeking careers in the energy field, including electric cooperatives. We are proud to support efforts such as this, that empower our youth to become hard working citizens and leaders in our local communities.

As a cooperative member, you can be proud of the fact that you are a part of a member-owned, locally controlled, and locally managed organization that supports its community and schools. This school year, I encourage you to make an extra effort to reach out to local teachers and students. They need our encouragement and support. The more involved we are in supporting the education system, the stronger our future generations will be. OKL Article End


Electrical safety lessons for students

Brent Bacon
Oklahoma Association of
Electric Cooperatives

As students, parents, administrative staff and educators prepare for a new school year, there is another aspect of learning that is greatly important for our younger generations. As we know, electricity plays a major role in our everyday lives, and it is a powerful resource that should be respected. However, children often do not understand the dangers of electricity. That is why Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives are committed to investing in safety education for our youth by providing educational programs to local schools and by empowering educators, parents and consumers with electrical safety tips and engaging resources. Because electric cooperatives are deeply committed to education and believe in innovative approaches, we understand that young ones have a short attention span and we must be creative on how we present information. As a new school year begins, we encourage you to make electric safety education fun for the young ones in your life by implementing some of the ideas below:

Depending on the age of the child, consider designating an “electronics agent” in the home. The agent should be responsible for pointing out electronics that are not in use and keeping appliances safe from liquids. Reward the agent for pointing out overloaded outlets or other potentially dangerous situations. 

Emphasize the importance of fire prevention with children and create a family fire drill plan as an extra precaution. Incentivize children by rewarding those who followed the plan and made it safely out of the home. 

One of the most important safety tips you can give your kids is to avoid any downed power lines. In fact, it is best to avoid power lines, transformers and substations in general. A downed power line can still be energized, and it can also energize other objects, including fences and trees. Make sure kids understand the potential dangers of coming in contact with a downed power line or low hanging wire. And, if they see a downed power line, ask them to tell an adult and contact your local electric cooperative.

Other helpful reminders are to never put metal objects in outlets or appliances; don’t overcrowd electrical outlets, and never mix water and electricity.

While we should make learning fun, it is important to ensure that children understand the risks they are facing if they do not practice electrical safety. No matter how you choose to get your kids interested in staying safe around electricity, know that your local electric cooperative is here to help. For more ideas, contact your co-op or visit: www.safeelectricity.org OKL Article End