Electric Cooperative Principle #5: Education, Training, and Information
Education and training for members, elected representatives (directors/trustees), CEOs, and employees help them effectively contribute to the development of their cooperatives.
At Tri-County Electric Cooperative we are committed to providing our members with quality, safe and affordable electric service. The continued education of TCEC employees and members is a big part of how we work to carry out that commitment. TCEC employees are encouraged and challenged to expand their knowledge of the electric utility industry and grow in their individual fields ranging from human resources, line work, communications, and computer sciences. Emphasis is placed on professional growth and development through continued education in supervisory courses, public speaking, safety and new technology trainings.
Your cooperative is also committed to education within the communities we serve; through safety demonstrations, and partnering with local colleges and various school programs. TCEC’s Energizing Education Scholarship program awarded over $13,000 to local seniors in 2017 and every year we sponsor four high school juniors on the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour.
Electric Co-op Employee, Youth Tour Alum, Mother-Son Duo Graduate from NFCC
Angela Eastabrooks, Member Service Specialist, graduated with her AA degree from North Florida Community College in December. Also in her graduating class was her son Gabe a 2015 Youth Tour participant.
Angela has worked at TCEC for almost 19 years, the majority of Gabe’s life. He grew up in the co-op and became an ambassador for TCEC after his time on the Youth Tour. He is now equipped with the knowledge and experience to help spread the word about the benefits of TCEC and how his peers can become involved as well.
As the Member Service Specialist, Angela has many responsibilities ranging from assisting new and existing members with understanding their energy use, analyzing meter data, establishing payment arrangements, collection processes, financial support, service orders, managing work schedules for Member Service Representatives and much more.
“Both of my children [Gabe, 20 and Mckenzie, 18] were at the age where they had to start making big decisions about their future. I wanted them both to graduate from college and I knew if I was going to encourage them to do it, then I needed to do it as well” – said Angela.
NFCC’s hybrid classroom allowed Angela to maintain her full time work schedule while attending classes on campus one night a week and completing the other course work online.
Her AA degree accompanied with her *NRECA supervisory certification will better equip her to serve TCEC members.
Stephanie Carroll, TCEC Manager of Corporate Services, completed Robert I. Kabat Management Internship Program (MIP) in early 2017. The Management Internship Program is a robust and challenging learning experience for future leaders in the electric cooperative industry. The program includes a rigorous series of workshops offered by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin. The program guides participants through all facets of the electric utility industry, including the many changes occurring around the nation.
MIP participants go through three 10-day sessions designed to challenge and educate participants in new, innovative management techniques. Participants leave with a better understanding of what consumers want and how to ensure they get it.
By also covering the unique principles that govern the operations of electric cooperatives, the program helps the co-op analyze ways to enhance the core organization.
Only rural electric cooperative CEOs and top level management participate in the program. This allows greater emphasis of study, on management challenges and the aspects of consumer-ownership that cooperatives enjoy. Participants learn focus on member value as part of day-to-day decision making.
Stephanie has completed one of the most exclusive educational programs in the nation for electric cooperative management.
Kaitlynn Culpepper, Community Relations Specialist, recently completed the requirements to become a Certified Cooperative Communicator, a national certification program offered by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA).
Completing the CCC program signifies standards of professionalism in communications and competency of the electric cooperative industry. Since 1985, over 400 electric cooperative communicators have attained CCC status.
In order to become certified, Kaitlynn submitted a portfolio of her work, which was reviewed by an independent communications professional who has earned the CCC credential. In addition to passing the portfolio review, Kaitlynn passed a rigorous four-hour examination.
The CCC Program was created to strengthen and enrich the professional skills and abilities of electric co-op communicators, to help them successfully fill their crucial roles in ensuring the best possible future for electric cooperatives. This is done through the establishment of professional development goals, identification of a body of knowledge and skills necessary to the practice of electric co-op communication, and recognition of those individuals who have demonstrated a professional level of excellence.
Amy Straka, Lead System Operator, and Allen Welch, Journeyman Lineman, both received their Supervisory Certificates issued by NRECA.
This program delivers instruction on core competencies required of supervisors in the areas of leadership, communication, and basic administrative skills. NRECA developed this curriculum based on a set of supervisory competencies identified by new cooperative supervisors, experienced supervisors, and CEOs.
Kyle Fox, Apprentice Lineman, graduated in 2017 with his Bachelor’s degree from Valdosta State University. Kyle attended classes at night and online while maintaining his full time work schedule at the co-op. With only 3 classes remaining to complete the program he knew it was time to finish what he had started. Earning a college degree reflects highly on an individual’s work ethic, dedication, and willingness to succeed. These are all qualities the co-op depends on to provide our members with safe, reliable, and affordable electric service.
*NRECA is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to more than 37 million people in 47 states.
Welcome to the Co-op Family
Lucas Miller recently joined Tri-County Electric Cooperative as a System Operator. Lucas was born and raised in Lee, FL. He has an AA degree from North Florida Community College and studied Computer Science at Florida State University.
He describes himself as a computer savvy, country boy who likes fishing and riding his four-wheeler. These qualities make him a perfect addition to the co-op family. His extensive experience with computer hardware and software will be a valuable asset while he is working with multiple computers and software programs at one time as a System Operator in TCEC’s dispatch.
Lucas says his favorite think about working at the co-op so far is the people and the culture. He says “I can tell people really like coming to work and I feel privileged to have gotten a job here.”
Fun Fact: Lucas taught himself how to play the guitar and sing.
Trustee Donnie Waldrep Earns NRECA Certification
District 3 Trustee Donnie Waldrep was recently recognized for earning his NRECA Certified Cooperative Director Certificate. These certificate programs are offered in three levels, from fundamental to advanced, and are designed to help electric cooperative directors at every stage of their service understand their roles and responsibilities. Mr. Waldrep was elected to the Board of Trustees during the 2016 Annual Meeting. Soon afterwards he went to work taking a specific set of courses that focused on basic governance knowledge and essential skills required of cooperative trustees, which in turn allows him to contribute effectively to the development of the cooperative. All of us congratulate Mr. Waldrep on earning his Credentialed Cooperative Director certification.