Cooperative University: Combining Leadership and Learning

Skits about the Cooperative Principles creates laughter. Building an electrical system from pipe cleaners and Playdoh is hands on learning. Trying to twist wire with the bulky rubber gloves that a lineman wears daily is a challenge. These activities combine to build leadership within high school juniors.

On the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 18, 30 students representing 10 high schools, arrived at Dixie Electric to participate in the Youth Leadership University. The fun-filled day is an educational experience designed to teach high school juniors about cooperatives and electricity and build their leadership skills.

One of the highlights of Cooperative University is an interactive discussion with state legislators. Rep. Noah Sanford and Rep. Gary Staples answered questions from the students on issues relating to Mississippi.

After lunch, the students participated in a rotation. The first stop was a visit with Serviceman Adron Presley and Apprentice Wes McDonnieal who explained the tools, digger truck and other equipment used by a lineman. The second stop was the dispatch center where students learned what happens when they call in a power outage. For the last stop, Operations Manager Pat McCarthy, Safety Manager Joe Donald and Journeyman Lineman Jason Holder led the students in a daily task performed by linemen. Using rubber gloves on a small-scale demonstration power line system, the students tied in an insulator.

Youth leadership winners Garrett Crowder and Aubrey Gaudet shared their experiences from the past year, specifically highlighting their trip to Washington, D.C. Both students are seniors at Sacred Heart Catholic School.

This annual event is the first step in the Youth Leadership Program. From the students who attended, several were selected for an interview the following day for an opportunity to attend the Youth Leadership Workshop in Jackson, which is organized and hosted jointly with the other electric cooperatives in Mississippi. Two students will win an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. in June 2019. The Washington, D.C. Youth Tour program has given students from across the nation an opportunity to see their nation’s capital since the 1950s.

Academic counselors, teachers and school officials from the local high schools joined the students for the University.

The winners will be announced in the November issue of Today in Mississippi.

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