Unmissable Opportunities: 2024 Youth Tour Contest Opens | OEC News

High School Juniors Eligible For “Trip of a Lifetime” to Washington, D.C.

Perhaps OEC’s best-known and most anticipated youth program, Youth Tour offers high school juniors a week-long, all-expenses-paid educational trip to Washington, D.C. in June. Four deserving students travel with the Oklahoma delegation (70+ students) to our nation’s capital where they tour historic sites and national landmarks, meet Oklahoma’s congressional delegation and more. Youth Tour has earned a reputation as “a trip of a lifetime” among former participants.

This year’s trip is scheduled for June 14 – 20, 2024, but interested applicants should keep reading or visit okcoop.org/YouthTour for the full list of contest requirements. The deadline to apply is December 20, 2023.

New Scholarships Up For Grabs

Youth Tour contestants now have even more reasons to get involved. One of them is the Cooperative Youth Ambassador Program’s $5,000 scholarship drawing, which requires participants to engage in activities like attending cooperative sponsored events, promoting OKYT on social media, serving as a High School liaison for future Youth Tours and attending their co-op’s annual meeting. There are also opportunities for bonus entries.

Another scholarship, the OEC Youth Tour scholarship, offers $1,000 (up to $1,500) and can be obtained by participating in the Youth Leadership Council and the Cooperative Youth Ambassador Program.

National Scholarship Available:

The Youth Tour Alumni Scholarship, listed on OEC’s website, offers awards ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 and can be applied for annually. While the deadline for applications is usually in April or May, applicants have the chance to receive this prestigious scholarship every year. To learn more and apply, okcoop.org/sponsorships-scholarships/

PART 1: COMMUNITY PROJECT

Cooperatives come in all shapes and sizes, but they all hold to the seven Cooperative Principles with Commitment to Community being one. Participating in events that benefit our communities is of high priority to OEC.

ASSIGNMENT: Imagine you are granted $500 to create a project benefitting your community. How would you utilize the funds? Who would benefit? How? Why is this important to the community?

Create a project proposal outlining your project using the sample template as a basis.

PART 2: COMMUNITY PROJECT PROMOTION

Every good cause needs an event to inspire interest and raise money. A community initiative will only succeed if people know and care about it. Let’s promote it!

ASSIGNMENT: Imagine a fundraising event for your community project. Create a promotional video for social media. (Max: 2 min/2 MB)

PART 3: LETTER TO A LEADER

Oklahoma Youth Tour allows students to see the government working up close. During our day on Capitol Hill, we walk the halls of Congress, visit with members of the Oklahoma federal delegation, and tour the U.S. Capitol. Being an informed and active constituent is an important civic duty.

ASSIGNMENT: Write a professional letter to an elected official about an issue important to you. This could be the issue surrounding your community project or an unrelated issue.

*Find examples of elected officials and ways to contact them at okcoop.org/YouthTour

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Learn how to strategically place trees for energy savings with tips from OEC, one of the only two certified Tree Line USA Utility electric cooperatives in Oklahoma. Since 2016, more than 1,200 free trees have been given away. Find out how you can take part!

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Energize Your Summer | OEC News

Middle school students eligible to attend the Youth Power Energy Camp

OEC is searching for the best and brightest eighth grade students in our seven-county service area to send to the action-packed, four day Youth Power Energy Camp!

Energy Camp is set for May 30 – June 2 at Canyon Camp and Conference Center near Hinton. Each year, OEC sponsors up to four students to attend the camp, where they will join 80 of their peers from across the state. Energy Camp helps develop leadership skills and promotes teamwork while teaching about cooperative principles, rural electrification and electrical safety.

If you have questions regarding the contest, Energy Camp or other OEC youth programs, contact Tory Tedder-Loffland at 217-6726 or tory@okcoop.org, or link.okcoop.org/energycamp23.

Procedure and Eligibility

Procedure and Eligibility 

Students currently enrolled in eighth grade qualify and must meet the requirements listed to the left, including a resume, letter of recommendation and the online application.

Energy Camp is part of OEC’s youth development initiative, L.E.A.R.N.: Leading, Educating, Advancing and Rewarding the Next generation. L.E.A.R.N. encompasses the catalog of youth programs OEC offers to students, teachers and schools in our service area.

Contest Requirements:

  1. Applicants must answer at least two short-answer questions on the online application at link.okcoop.org/energycamp23.
  2. Applicants must submit a resume of their curricular, extracurricular and leadership activities. Include awards, recognitions and certificates. Also include club memberships, offices held, hobbies, community involvement and special interests.
  3. Applicants must submit a letter of recommendation from a teacher, principal or community leader.
  4. Complete the online application at: link.okcoop.org/energycamp23 and upload the resume and letter of recommendation. Contact Tory (405-217-6726) if you experience technical difficulties or would like a  printed application.
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One Tree At a Time | OEC News

Learn how to strategically place trees for energy savings with tips from OEC, one of the only two certified Tree Line USA Utility electric cooperatives in Oklahoma. Since 2016, more than 1,200 free trees have been given away. Find out how you can take part!

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A Seat at the Table | OEC News

OEC engineer named subcommittee chair

OEC manager of system engineering, Nick Shumaker, was named the Chair of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Engineering Subcommittee for Power Quality and Reliability.

The committee, comprised of experts in their field, makes it their mission to prepare electric cooperatives for the challenges and opportunities of the future by helping cooperatives to strengthen their system reliability and enhance power quality, Shumaker said.

“I am honored to have my work in electric reliability recognized and look forward to supporting the entire cooperative community,” Shumaker said.

As the chair, Shumaker oversees the committee’s collaboration with industry partners such as the Electric Power Research Institute to provide research on system hardening, new technologies and infrastructure reliability.

Congratulations, Nick Shumaker!

Learn more about NRECA’s reliability and security resources at cooperative.com/topics/reliability-security/Pages/default.aspx

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One Tree At a Time | OEC News

Learn how to strategically place trees for energy savings with tips from OEC, one of the only two certified Tree Line USA Utility electric cooperatives in Oklahoma. Since 2016, more than 1,200 free trees have been given away. Find out how you can take part!

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Time to Shine

High School Juniors Eligible For “Trip of a Lifetime” to Washington, D.C.

Perhaps OEC’s best-known and most anticipated youth program, Youth Tour offers high school juniors a week-long, all-expenses-paid educational trip to Washington, D.C. in June. Four deserving students travel with the Oklahoma delegation (70+ students) to our nation’s capital where they tour historic sites and national landmarks, meet Oklahoma’s congressional delegation and more. Youth Tour has earned a reputation as “a trip of a lifetime” among former participants. 4703300502

This year’s trip is scheduled for June 16-22, 2023, but interested applicants should keep reading or visit the link below for the full list of contest requirements.

PART 1: COMMUNITY PROJECT

Cooperatives are businesses created by like-minded people to address a common unmet need. Cooperatives come in all shapes and sizes, but they all hold to the seven Cooperative Principles and core values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. This is what makes the cooperative difference.

Assignment: Imagine you are granted $500 to create a project benefitting your community. How would you utilize the funds? Create a project proposal outlining your project using the sample template as a basis.

PART 2: COMMUNITY PROJECT PROMOTION

An event, fundraiser, or community initiative will only succeed if people know and care about it. 

ASSIGNMENT: Create a promotional video for your community project*. (Max: 2 min/2 MB) 

PART 3: LETTER TO A LEADER

Oklahoma Youth Tour allows students to see the government working up close. During our day on Capitol Hill, we walk the halls of Congress, visit with members of the Oklahoma federal delegation, and tour the U.S. Capitol. Being an informed and active constituent is an important civic duty.

ASSIGNMENT: Write a professional letter to an elected official about an issue important to you. This could be the issue surrounding your community project or an unrelated issue.

Share this article

One Tree At a Time | OEC News

Learn how to strategically place trees for energy savings with tips from OEC, one of the only two certified Tree Line USA Utility electric cooperatives in Oklahoma. Since 2016, more than 1,200 free trees have been given away. Find out how you can take part!

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Touch a Truck

OEC and OEC Fiber joined the community-wide Touch A Truck event at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds in September, benefitting the Pioneer Library System Foundation. The event has showcased large trucks and emergency vehicles for decades, allowing children to get an up-close look — even hopping in the bucket of OEC’s bucket truck.

Touch A Truck is a family favorite event that has taken place for nearly two decades. The event promotes play-based learning to help children learn and grow. Children can get an up-close look at vehicles they might typically see from afar.

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One Tree At a Time | OEC News

Learn how to strategically place trees for energy savings with tips from OEC, one of the only two certified Tree Line USA Utility electric cooperatives in Oklahoma. Since 2016, more than 1,200 free trees have been given away. Find out how you can take part!

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The Power of Service

Oklahoma Electric Cooperative and OEC Fiber Employees Volunteer to Complete Much Needed Community Projects

Twenty OEC and OEC Fiber employees teamed up with Cleveland County Master Gardeners during United Way of Norman’s (UWN) Day of Caring (DOC). The annual service event brings together hundreds of volunteers from businesses in Cleveland County to perform much-needed projects for nonprofit organizations.

“I enjoy seeing so many members of our community come together to help out our often-struggling nonprofits complete projects they might not be able to perform due to budget restraints, staffing and the necessary time commitment,” said OEC Education and Outreach Programs Director Tory Tedder-Loffland, 

who also served on the DOC planning committee.

OEC’s volunteer group spent time repairing and staining benches and pergolas throughout the Master Gardeners’ grounds. The team also removed old raised garden beds and completed yard work around the property. It was a busy day filled with rewarding work for a deserving organization.

“It is especially rewarding to see the business community come together to make a lasting impact beyond just donating money,” said OEC Fiber social marketing associate Hunter Foster. “I love seeing everyone serve these nonprofits and our community as a whole.”

The mission of Cleveland County Master Gardeners, the organization with which OEC and OEC Fiber employees were paired, is very simple. 

“Oklahoma Master Gardeners are a vital part of Oklahoma State University Extension’s ability to provide consumers with up-to-date, research-based information on gardening and plant care. Master Gardeners has also become a popular volunteer activity that gives its participants a sense of community spirit, accomplishment and intellectual stimulation.”

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One Tree At a Time | OEC News

Learn how to strategically place trees for energy savings with tips from OEC, one of the only two certified Tree Line USA Utility electric cooperatives in Oklahoma. Since 2016, more than 1,200 free trees have been given away. Find out how you can take part!

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Banding Together

Oklahoma co-ops come together to form the Cooperative Broadband Coalition

The Cooperative Broadband Coalition (CBC) is a statewide organization dedicated to advancing the mission of expanding rural broadband across Oklahoma. This group works to provide fast, reliable internet service to all Oklahomans by bringing fiber subsidiaries together to combat the unique challenge of staying connected in the twenty-first century. 

Electric cooperatives have been powering the homes of rural Oklahoma since President Franklin Roosevelt enacted the Rural Electrification Act in 1936. Each of these electric cooperatives provides essential services to people in their area, but they have not always had enough influence on their own to overcome every obstacle set before them. That is where the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives (OAEC) steps in. This statewide organization helps co-ops pool their resources and band together to ensure we all have the necessary resources to provide our collective members with top-tier service.

One of the most recent examples is House Bill 3835. You may remember receiving emails asking you to contact your representatives. Because of the widespread effects of the bill, OAEC provided valuable resources for all co-ops to encourage the members they serve to help defeat this bill.

In a similar fashion, 10 electric distribution cooperatives with fiber subsidiaries, like OEC and OEC Fiber, banded together to create the CBC, an affiliate of OAEC. Together, they provide service to 46 counties in Oklahoma and Arkansas, with over 78,000 subscribers and more than 16,000 miles of fiber line.

While these groups differ in size, their missions are the same. The CBC exists to ensure everyone can access the reliable high-speed broadband service they need. Each subsidiary sees this as an extension of the cooperatives’ directive to bring much-needed service to underserved areas. The core principle of Concern for Community is the driving force behind what these subsidiaries do.

Coming together to form the CBC demonstrates another cooperative principle, Collaboration Among Cooperatives. By forming the CBC and meeting with several legislative groups, they have ensured the construction of a network that will provide exceptional service for years to come.

OAEC and CBC help ensure OEC and OEC Fiber have the resources to provide our members and subscribers with the services they need. These statewide organizations are integral to what sets us apart from other service providers. They ensure our voices are heard and we are given a seat at the table. They prove that, like the cooperatives that came before, we can accomplish far more together than we ever could apart.

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One Tree At a Time | OEC News

Learn how to strategically place trees for energy savings with tips from OEC, one of the only two certified Tree Line USA Utility electric cooperatives in Oklahoma. Since 2016, more than 1,200 free trees have been given away. Find out how you can take part!

Read More »
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Constructing Futures

Businesses unite to introduce teens to construction trade careers, including power line work

Students as young as middle school are preparing for life outside of school. That path often involves college and formal degrees, but one group of forward-minded entrepreneurs gives students more options.

Construct My Future, a week-long summer camp, is designed to allow teens to explore the many careers offered in the construction trades, many of which don’t require college education.

“A group of us in the construction industry got together and created a free summer camp for seventh and eighth graders,” said Will Blake, a founding member of Construct My Future and owner of Vesta Foundation Solutions. “We wanted to allow kids to learn about the wide spectrum of trades while making it fun.”

OEC was one of the many vendors instructing this summer’s inaugural camp. Linemen from OEC demonstrated how they safely climb poles, work on electrical lines, and taught electricity basics. In addition to learning about the electric utility field, kids had the chance to participate in the Live Line demonstration 

led by Energy Efficiency Solutions Specialist, and former  Journeyman Lineman, Daniel Lofland.

“This camp was a great marriage of a career fair type event mixed with some actual hands-on training like at a trade school,” Lofland said. “They were exposed to different careers but also handed tools and learned what it takes to do the work in those industries. Ours showcased the dangers our linemen work around every day and why we want the public to stay away from downed powerlines. We then strapped some hooks and a belt on some of the kids and let them try and climb a few poles.”

Students attending construction camp participated in immersive demonstrations from various vendors, each day exploring industries including carpentry, heavy machinery and HVAC, Blake said. Most presentations are hands-on, which sparks a serious interest in students.

“We were thinking we would need more video games and virtual activities to get kids excited because a lot of education these days is driven by technology,” Blake said. “But they were more interested in setting insulators on power poles than using virtual reality to repair HVAC systems.”

The tactile style of the OEC demonstration was the power behind the students’ evident interest in the field, as well as learning about utilities often taken for granted, Blake said.

“I think all of us as Americans take electricity for granted because we’re able to flip on a light switch without a thought,” Blake said, “but by getting involved with the electrical cooperative, students were able to harness up, climb poles and understand where electricity comes from and how it works. That’s not something they see in a classroom or experience on a video game or a cell phone.”

In addition to the hands-on portion, Lofland also discussed upward mobility, pay and benefits electric co-ops offer their employees.

“Rather than just teaching about the skill, OEC did a very good job expressing all the different opportunities you can have when entering this specific category,” Blake said. “That was a huge amount of value to not only us as board members, but the parents and the students.”

While college tuition prices are skyrocketing and job markets are flooded, often leaving students with few job opportunities, industries like the ones displayed at Construct My Future are ripe with opportunity.

“The fact is we have nearly 20% of our talent pool in the construction trades exiting the workforce in the next five to six years due to retirement,” Blake said. “We’ve experienced an ongoing need to bring people into our industry where there’s plenty of opportunities.”

While emphasizing career paths outside the traditional college, the camp is not discouraging anyone from attending college, Blake said. Instead, it shows students other options to explore after high school. By doing this, students can learn more about what they’re passionate about and make informed decisions about their future.

“We are not trying to discourage anyone from going to college, but rather educating them about opportunities in addition to college,” Blake said. “We’re trying to provide an open platform that allows student campers to experience it and decide on their own whether or not they want to continue down that path.”

One of the camp’s board of directors’ goals is to provide attendees with after-camp care and classes to provide licensure hours, ensuring quicker job placement and a better-educated workforce as they enter the field.

“Many folks are going back to construction or viewing construction as a reactive measure rather than a proactive measure,” Blake said. “We would rather it be a proactive choice, so it’s about these businesses uniting to create programs that allow students to make an informed choice.”

While striving towards a regular curriculum, the camp remains a free opportunity for students looking to explore career paths otherwise unknown to them. OEC and Construct My Future will continue their beneficial partnership for the foreseeable future.

“We look forward to continuing this relationship and participating in construction camp for many years,” Lofland said. “We love that we can talk a little about the trade but also drive home public safety aspects of electricity in a fun and engaging way. Seeing these kids’ wheels spinning as they think through questions about various things they have seen or encountered is always a highlight to me.”

Enrollment for next year’s camp opens in January, be sure to check their website, constructmyfutureok.org for more information at that time. This unique opportunity could spark a lifelong passion for a rewarding career in the construction industry.

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One Tree At a Time | OEC News

Learn how to strategically place trees for energy savings with tips from OEC, one of the only two certified Tree Line USA Utility electric cooperatives in Oklahoma. Since 2016, more than 1,200 free trees have been given away. Find out how you can take part!

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Service-Driven Perspective

Our member service, subscriber support and engineering services departments are often the unsung heroes of OEC and OEC Fiber. The service departments work tirelessly to ensure you get the best experience with us. We sat down with a few team members to learn more about them. Here’s what they had to say:

Jeanie Lee, Member Services Associate

Q: Tell us about your family.

A: I’ve been married for 32 years, with two boys who are married, one bassett hound and one cat.

Q: What’s your favorite dessert?

A: Chocolate cake!

Chelle Aiken, Member Services Associate

Q: What community do you call home?

A: Norman!

Q: Spring, summer, fall or winter?

A: Fall, it’s football season!

Rosa Barringer, Member Services Associate

Q: Tell us about your family.

A: My husband Steve and I have been married for 14 years. We have three children and three grandchildren, and we love family vacations and spending time with them. Grandkids are the biggest joy, and I literally can’t get enough of ’em.

Q: What is your favorite fall activity?

A: I love pumpkin patches and hayrides. I feel it is a great way to spend time with family, have old-fashioned fun, get away from phones and television, and genuinely spend time together.

Melissa Alvarez, Member Services Associate

Q: What community do you call home?

A: Moore!

Q: What is your favorite part of working for OEC and OEC Fiber?

A: Serving OEC members and Fiber subscribers and giving back. I am proud of the company’s positive work and outreach to the community. It is the best place to work in OKLAHOMA!

Tiffany Carter, Member Services Associate

Q: Tell us about your family.

A: I have four animals! Two golden retrievers named Rowen and Goose and two cats named Luna and Jav.

Q: What is your coffee order?

A: I order it black with a hint of almond milk.

Linda Ammons, Subscriber Support Representative

Q: What community do you call home?

A: Norman!

Q: Apple or pumpkin pie?

A: I like pumpkin pie in the fall, but apple pie any other time. My favorite is lemon meringue, though.

Jarred Manning, Member Services Associate

Q: What community do you call home?

A: Norman.

Q: What is your favorite fall activity?

A: I love getting back to outdoorsy things in tolerable temperatures like mountain biking, hiking, camping and kayaking.

Lindy Wine, Member Services Associate

Q: Tell us about your family.

A: I have three boys and two Rottweilers.

Q: If OEC had a theme song, what would it be?

A: We Will Rock You by Queen!

Shana Gammill, Member Services Associate

Q: Tell us about your family.

A: I have a fiancé, two kids, a cat and a puppy.

Q: Spring, summer, fall or winter?

A: Fall because hoody weather is the best!

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One Tree At a Time | OEC News

Learn how to strategically place trees for energy savings with tips from OEC, one of the only two certified Tree Line USA Utility electric cooperatives in Oklahoma. Since 2016, more than 1,200 free trees have been given away. Find out how you can take part!

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Focused on You

Electric cooperatives were created to serve their members. Because we’re a co-op, we’re able to adapt to our community’s unique needs. That’s the power of co-op membership. 

Fall is a busy time, and October is a particularly eventful month with school, community and sports activities in full swing. It’s also when all cooperatives celebrate National Co-op Month. 

When I say OEC celebrates Co-op Month, it really means we are celebrating you! After all, our co-op wouldn’t exist without you, our members. 

Our core business purpose is to serve as your electricity provider, but the larger mission of the co-op is to help make our corner of the world a better place. “Concern for community” is one of seven guiding principles that all co-ops share.

Similar to how our wires run through our service territory, our concern for community flows through all of our decisions––because being a co-op means being a responsible partner and good neighbor. 

OEC works to help our community thrive through initiatives led by our employees and local board that’s comprised of neighbors who live right here in our community. Because we’re local, we understand our community’s unique needs and strive to help meet them. 

We’re proud to support local youth through Youth Tour and scholarship programs. With your help, we offer Operation Round Up to provide assistance to our community’s most vulnerable. We partner with and support area foodbanks and other charitable organizations such as United Way of Norman and Transition House. 

The word “cooperative” is close to “cooperation,” meaning people working together towards a common goal—mutually benefitting one another and the larger community. That’s the essence of the cooperative spirit. Our employees and member-elected board members are invested in the community in which live and serve. 

Above all, as a co-op we put our members’ priorities first. As your trusted energy partner, we know that saving energy and money is important to you. That’s why we have numerous programs in place to help, including home energy audits and a variety of rates to fit your needs.

We want to empower you to manage energy use at home. If you haven’t already, I encourage you take a moment and download our app, MyOEC. Through the app, you can conveniently monitor and manage your energy use. And we’re of course here to help, so give us a call if you have questions about your energy bills.

OEC is continuously examining ways to operate more efficiently while continuing to provide the highest level of friendly, reliable service you expect and deserve. After all, we’re your local co-op. We were built by the members we serve.

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One Tree At a Time | OEC News

Learn how to strategically place trees for energy savings with tips from OEC, one of the only two certified Tree Line USA Utility electric cooperatives in Oklahoma. Since 2016, more than 1,200 free trees have been given away. Find out how you can take part!

Read More »
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