Local Initiatives

Nevada Co-op Seeks to Involve Youth

By Victoria A. Rocha | ECT Staff Writer Published: April 29th, 2013

An electric cooperative in Nevada is adapting a popular member program to appeal to young people and maybe groom future co-op leaders in years to come.

Jonathan Brown and Nicole Dirrigl are interested in the new Youth Ambassador program at Valley Electric Association. (Photo By: Tom Polikalas)

Jonathan Brown and Nicole Dirrigl are interested in the new Youth Ambassador program at Valley Electric Association. (Photo By: Tom Polikalas)

The new Youth Ambassador program will be based on Valley Electric Association’s longtime Ambassadors program, widely considered to be a model of co-op member engagement. VEA announced the program in its April issue of Ruralite.

Pahrump-based VEA is still working on the details, but the program for high school and college students will highlight the differences between co-ops and large investor-owned utilities.

The new program is VEA’s effort to take on the challenge of co-op youth involvement, an issue many of the nation’s co-ops are tackling.

“How do we pass the baton on to the next generation of members in their teens and early 20s,” said Tom Husted who, as CEO of Valley Electric, started the current Ambassadors program and the counterpart for young people.

“This program will help develop new leadership who can brighten the future by understanding, embracing and putting into action cooperative business principles,” said Husted.

It will will strive to “put a real emphasis on what a cooperative is and what Valley Electric is doing for its members and the state,” said Husted. It will sponsor field trips and also expose young people to the variety of jobs available at co-ops .

“There’s a lot to learn here and young people can be exposed to careers they might not have thought of,” said Husted. Governmental affairs is one example.

“We can highlight the importance of what’s happening in Nevada’s capital Carson City and in Washington, D.C. There’s a real learning lab on the political side, he said.

Pahrump Valley High School senior Jonathan Brown “had no idea there was a difference between cooperatives and power companies” before he began an internship at VEA in January. He’s interested in the new program, too.

Now the co-op novice is learning about the cooperative difference in a very real way, noting that “VEA is so quick to help” meet the needs of its consumer-members.

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