Co-op Principles In Action

Youth Leadership Trip & Scholarship Programs Announced – September 2022 CCL CEO Article

By Ruth Marks, MVEA CEO

Ruth Marks, MVEA CEOAs a Mountain View Electric Association member, you are part of an electric co-op that is dedicated to creating programs that give back to the members and communities we serve. This month, we are going back to co-op basics to help spotlight two popular community-focused programs that were recently approved by the MVEA Board of Directors: the Youth Leadership Trip Contest and scholarship program. Both programs are great examples of co-op principles in action and illustrate MVEA’s dedication to bringing these principles to life.

Cooperatives around the world operate according to the same set of seven core principles and values that trace their roots back to 1844: Voluntary and Open Membership; Democratic Member Control; Members’ Economic Participation; Autonomy and Independence; Education, Training, and Information; Cooperation Among Cooperatives; and, Concern for Community. How we incorporate these principles into our business model and build relationships with our co-op members is more important than ever during an era influenced by changes in rural communities, government regulations, and evolving technologies.

Electric co-ops across the U.S. take great pride in building partnerships and creating programs that investor-owned utility companies do not regularly provide. Although I just joined the team in July, I would like to share that at MVEA these principles have a long history of being more than words — they are a way of thinking that is woven into our business practices and are at the heart of the services we provide.

Over the course of the next couple of months, you will see a variety of programs and events promoted that exemplify the principles of “Concern for Community” and “Education, Training, and Information.” MVEA’s Youth Leadership Trip Contest and scholarship program are examples of both. MVEA offers these programs because we recognize the importance of creating leadership opportunities in the communities we serve and supporting future generations of co-op members. Recently, both programs were adjusted to better fit the needs of applicants: both sophomore and junior students are now encouraged to apply for a youth leadership trip, and the scholarship program now offers additional funds for those students seeking an education from vocational, technical or trade schools.

These are tremendous opportunities for our co-op youth. If you read the August issue of this magazine, we provided a recap of the Washington, D.C. Youth Tour trip. One of the students, Reagan Massey a Falcon High School student, shared this about meeting elected officials, “They made me realize it’s important to have strongly held beliefs and ways to be of service to my community. I also learned that it’s incredibly important to stand up for what you believe — even if you’re facing severe opposition.” This is a core lesson she will take with her well into adulthood.

I understand that many scholarship recipients share that they hope to return to their community or the family farm after graduation, to better their life, pursue a dream and reach for opportunity. This year, four students will be chosen to attend a youth leadership trip, and $28,000 in scholarships will be available.