Left to right: NRECA CEO Glenn English; Taylor Electric Cooperative Board Chairman Brian Kulas; Taylor Electric Cooperative President and CEO Mike Schaefer; NRECA Board President Mike Guidry
Photo credit: Luis Gomez
San Diego, CA.; March 5, 2012 — The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) today honored Taylor Electric Cooperative, located in Medford, Wis., with its 2012 National Community Service Award for Youth Programs. The cooperative was recognized for developing an innovative program to teach students in local schools about cooperatives.
Providing youth education about cooperatives is a challenge faced by many rural electric co-ops due to tight school budgets and pressures on classroom time. Brian Kulas, Chairman of the Taylor Electric Cooperative Board, called on his experience as a former school administrator and assistant principal to overcome this hurdle.
Kulas worked with the Medford Public School system to develop a program in which Taylor County co-ops provide a trained substitute teacher for 5th grade classrooms who presents the co-op curriculum. The teacher is paid through donations from local cooperatives, including electric, farm-supply, farm credit, and credit unions, providing a savings to the schools.
The students learn from a curriculum that includes the seven cooperative principles, how cooperatives operate, co-op history, and co-op benefits to communities. Students also write and produce 30-second radio ads, some of which were used by the Taylor County Association of Cooperatives to promote October as Co-op Month last year.
The program, which began last year, earns praise from students, parents, teachers, and local cooperatives, and Taylor Electric Cooperative is working to replicate the model in other school districts.
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.
More than 8,000 representatives from cooperative electric utilities across the nation are attending the NRECA Annual Meeting March 4-7 in San Diego, Calif., during which they will set NRECA’s legislative and organizational agenda for 2012. In addition to considering and acting upon policy resolutions, delegates receive reports from NRECA officials, hear addresses by key public figures and business experts, and attend educational forums on major issues affecting electric cooperatives and their consumer owners.