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SEC nominated for Purpose award

Southside Electric Cooperative (SEC) is among 14 co-ops nationwide recently nominated for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Electric Cooperative Purpose Award.

The Arlington-based trade association, NRECA, represents SEC and more than 900 electric cooperatives across the U.S.

In its first year of existence, the national award recognizes electric cooperatives that work to make outstanding contributions resulting in visible, lasting improvements to the quality of life and the purpose of the cooperative in the community.

The award nomination focuses on SEC’s Day in the Life of a Lineman career exploration program, which seeks to educate local high school juniors and seniors about exciting job opportunities in the line worker industry.

Since 2014, approximately 325 students have participated in SEC’s four-hour curriculum, which consists of classroom presentations and interactive outdoor activities led by co-op personnel.

“Our intentions are to showcase a career alternative to students who are either not seeking, or not ready for, a college education. If we can make a difference in just one student’s life, then we’ve succeeded with our program,” explains Jeff Edwards, SEC’s president and CEO.

SEC is also partnering with Southside Virginia Community College (SVCC) and other Virginia co-ops to help create the state’s first Power-Line Worker Training School, set to launch next year at SVCC’s Occupational Technical Center at Fort Pickett in Blackstone. Classes begin in March, and registration is ongoing.

“SEC is excited to be part of the solution in expanding the horizons of our young people, and it has been extremely rewarding to see the overwhelmingly positive response to the program,” Edwards adds.

NRECA presents awards annually to electric cooperatives around the country, in areas including political activism, international aid and community service.

The award is meant to recognize cooperatives that go beyond the core mission of providing safe, affordable and reliable electricity.

The winner of the Electric Cooperative Purpose Award will be announced at NRECA’s 2016 annual meeting in February in New Orleans, La.