Young Leaders Panel Focuses on Opportunity

Electric cooperatives have much to offer younger generations, but the challenge can be spreading awareness of them – this was a key point of the Young Leaders Panel at this week’s Statewide Annual Meeting in Raleigh.

The panel, moderated by Lisa Crawley, communications specialist for North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives, included Caitlin Finley, the Youth Leadership Council scholarship recipient and Youth Tour participant from Blue Ridge Energy; Victoria Baskett, a 2016 recipient Miss NC STEM Scholarship sponsored by North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives; and Qua’Zavion Johnson, who was sponsored by Halifax EMC to attend the North Carolina Cooperative Council’s 2018 Cooperative Leadership Camp in White Lake.

“There are so many opportunities at co-ops. But many students just don’t know about them,” Finley said. “It’s important to get the word out there that co-ops have these opportunities. There are so many co-ops in this room doing so many wonderful things in their communities.”

Baskett agreed, stressing that when organizations like electric co-ops support young people, it better prepares them to work with older generations once they enter the workforce.

“It prepares them for more in-depth conversations, better workplace processes and just a better understanding of how to meet people where they are,” she said.

Johnson joked that his experience at the leadership camp gave him a taste of the challenges that can arise in bringing people together to work toward a common goal. The group was tasked with designing and marketing T-shirts using the cooperative business model.

“At first it was a bit of a struggle – everyone had differing views of what a good T-shirt looked like,” he said. “But my biggest takeaway was the importance of cooperation and understanding. Understanding each other better will help us work better together.”