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CO - OP LIVI NG


Fifth Cooperative Principle: Education, Training and Information


By Anna Politano A


ll Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives are committed to education. Cooperatives strive not only to educate and inform their membership and the general public, but they also invest in education, training and in- formation for their board of trustees and the co-op’s employees. Because education, train- ing and information play such a vital role in a cooperative’s operations, electric co-ops are constantly seeking ways to innovate, adapt and grow in order to benefi t their members. Central Rural Electric Cooperative (CREC), headquartered in Stillwater, Okla., actively culti- vates numerous venues for education—to various audiences—through its strategic goal of “building a culture of excellence.”


“To CREC, investing in education means un- derstanding our responsibility and our account- ability with some of the challenges we have to confront in our industry,” CREC Chief Executive Offi cer David Swank, said. “To invest in educa- tion means to expand our capacity and skill set to think creatively.”


Membership Because members are consumer-owners of their co-op, the board and staff at CREC make every ef- fort to ensure members are aware of utility indus- try trends and challenges since they have a stake in the co-op’s success.


CREC members attend district business meet- ings in the spring and aware meetings in the fall. According to CREC’s Communications Specialist Jeff Joiner, the district and aware meetings cover industry issues and updates such as information on, Smart Energy Source, which CREC is a part- ner in, and demands and opportunities created by the advancement of the oil and gas industry in Oklahoma.


CREC has also established an Ambassadors Program that is comprised of members who are willing to serve as a soundboard for the co-op. CREC ambassadors visit with community leaders, civic leaders, and their neighbors about the im- pact CREC makes on the communities it serves. According to Joiner, the co-op strives to provide meaningful and frequent communications to its members through various means, including the publication of the co-op’s quarterly newsletter,


Editor’s Note: This is the fi fth story in a series highlighting the Seven Cooperative Principles as a celebration of the International Year of Cooperatives.


Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and em- ployees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the general public, particularly young people and opinion leaders, about the nature and benefi ts of cooperation.


(Left): Apprentice lineman Kyle Williams (left) gets pointers from journeyman Doug Minor as he practices hanging a transformer gin on a pole during training at CREC. The gin is used to raise or lower a transformer from a pole when a bucket truck can’t be used. CREC set up a training facility with poles and de-energized lines for both climbing and bucket truck training for linemen. (Right): CREC employees learn to use system software at the cooperative’s training center. Photos by Jeff Joiner/CREC


REsource, bill stuffers, web- sites, social media, the An- nual Meeting, the statewide publication Oklahoma Living, district meetings, and more. Among other benefi ts, having an educated and informed membership can eventually lead to the shaping of future energy policy.


If viewing our digital edition, click here for a video on the impact cooperatives make in


their communities. Access our digital edition at www.ok-living.coop or download our Free App at the Apple Newsstand.


tric Cooperative Association. Board directors are co-op members generally elected to represent


“If we’re going to get positive results in this complex industry, we have to build our capacity. Education is so important to shape future policy and energy solutions,” Swank said. “Members are a signifi cant part of this equation. We know how important it is to spend time with them, com- municating through all vehicles and making sure that our message is consistent. Education and training—and how it leads to communications— are vital to our industry.”


Board & Staff


In order to drive the efforts of excellence in edu- cation, training and information to its member- ship, CREC is armed with a knowledgeable board of directors and industry-savvy employees. According to Swank, within three years of be- coming a trustee, every board member is required to receive the Credentialed Cooperative Director Certifi cate, sponsored by the National Rural Elec-


the membership of the co-op. The directors un- dergo internal training as well. In addition, some directors represent CREC on the boards of gen- eration and transmission cooperatives such as KAMO Power and Associated Electric. As a result of serving on these boards, CREC directors are exposed to further educational opportunities in- cluding regulatory issues and industry updates. CREC also places a strong value on the educa- tion of its employees.


“Today, in this very technical and dynamic envi- ronment we live in, skilled and competent profes- sionals are vital; they’re our assets,” Swank said. Swank added that each employee at CREC has the opportunity to develop a Professional Devel- opment Plan with his or her supervisor. Employ- ees outline their goals and objectives, aligning them with the co-op’s objectives.


Employees are encouraged to seek out training


in their fi eld that would improve their ability to do their jobs, whether it may be a master’s degree or a certifi cation.


Continued on Page 24 OCTOBER 2012 5


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