When Minnesota’s 2021 Electric Cooperative Youth Tour was canceled, we took the opportunity to create our own cooperative experience, which we called COOPx. After reading essays, we invited Allison Cavallin (Pine City), Lacy Cuda (Braham), and Ria Edberg (Mora) to spend three days exploring the role our employees play in providing energy to more than 62,000 homes, farms, and businesses.
Held June 23-25 in Braham, COOPx offered a wide range of experiences. On day one, students were greeted by the Executive Team and learned about ECE while touring the headquarters and operations buildings. Allison told us, “Before COOPx, I had no idea that co-ops power over half of the country.” After lunch, the teens moved into breakout sessions with their pre-selected departments of interest, then ended the afternoon by putting together their own social media post.
The second day of COOPx was spent largely outdoors and cruising in ECE’s Chevrolet Bolt EV. After participating in the morning routine at operations, students visited a job site to see our linemen in action—which included a safety briefing—as well as a stop at the Cambridge solar array, then they got a look at our pollinator habitat in Braham. Ria noted that “When it comes to community involvement, cooperatives really make a difference.”
On the final day of COOPx, the teens received formal headshots and attended a board meeting, where they were each presented with a $2,000 scholarship to be used for continuing education. As Lacy mentioned, “My biggest takeaway us how co-op membership is such a unique business model that benefits the members.” After chatting with board members during lunch, the students participated in a group interview before going home with an array of goodies, logo items, and memories to last a lifetime.