How Golf Event Helps Train LinemenBy Michael W. Kahn | ECT Staff Writer Published: July 8th, 2014
The next generation of linemen is in high demand at electric cooperatives and other utilities nationwide. A Colorado co-op has hit upon a way to offer scholarships to would-be linemen, while having fun raising the money.
The Morgan County Rural Electric Association Invitational Golf Tournament enters its 13th year, when 136 golfers tee off Aug. 2.
Their $140 entry fee helps the Fort Morgan-based co-op offer up to three scholarships to young members considering a career as a lineman.
“Within the boundaries of our service territory, we give out $7,500 scholarships to go to the line school of their choice,” said Dave Henderson, director of external affairs at MCREA. “This gives the local youths in a rural area an opportunity to have a good career in the electrical business.”
The program has been an unqualified success.
“We’ve had a couple of our scholarship winners come back home to work for us and that’s been really nice,” said Henderson. For example, Alan Mason won a scholarship in 2010 and is now an MCREA apprentice lineman.
“The scholarship helped me out a lot,” said Mason. “I was able to pay for most of the tuition and all the tools that I needed to attend line school and start my career. I came out of school with no debt, and I owe that to the MCREA lineworker scholarship.”
Many other scholarship recipients have gone to work at neighboring co-ops and the city of Fort Morgan, while still others are now at co-ops in other states.
The total raised for scholarships over the 13 years of the tournament will top $150,000 by the time this year’s event is done.
And the golfers have a great time—so much so that there’s a perennial waiting list for the invitation-only event.
“We’ve had a waiting list of at least 100 most of the time,” said Henderson, adding that players come from several states, some as far away as Hawaii and Alabama.
As for what makes the MCREA event so popular, Henderson believes it’s a combination of things. Along with two days of golf, each player this year will receive a Kindle Fire HD, and there’s a steak dinner with more than 100 door prizes.
“But I think it’s the atmosphere more than anything. We get a lot of employee volunteers to come out and help, and they just make the tournament the best around. My hat’s off to them,” said Henderson.
“We had a comment from one of the players just last week that no matter the prizes, the fun is what they look forward to.”
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