At Valley Electric our mission is much more than providing power to our members. It is supporting our communities and the people in them. In some cases, it is investing in the development of the young people of our community and our future cooperative members.
Supporting our communities through youth development is at the core of what we do here at Valley. We support our youth in various ways such as scholarships that are awarded each year, donations to local sports teams, our annual Fill the Bucket event, our safety demonstrations and so much more.
One of our favorite ways to support our young members is by taking selected teens from our service territory entering their senior year to participate in the Michael F. Peterson Youth Leadership Conference.
From July 5th to July 9th four young members traveled to Ephraim, Utah where they stayed on the Snow College campus chaperoned by three Valley Electric employees.
Towards the end of their junior year of high school, in March, the students applied to show their interest in going to the leadership camp. A team combed through the applications and selected four individuals; Aiden McClard, Blake Brown, Mick Skinner, and Morgan Taylor.
Valley’s chaperones, Beth Lee, Manager of Key Accounts, Community Relations & Government Affairs, Emily Fronk, Compliance Analyst, and Joe Fieldsted, Manager of Safety, spent their busy days at the conference helping out and guiding the teens through their day.
Valley Electric’s students joined several other students from cooperatives from Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming. In total about 145 students filled the college campus for the event. The students’ days were jam-packed with exciting, educational, and fun activities that sent the kids on an interpersonal leadership journey, learning important cooperative principles along the way.
There was a broad range of activities that the students participated in. They ranged from a ropes course, talent show, dance, and a variety of presenters. All of these activities focused on motivation, leadership, self-confidence, and teamwork.
One of the most memorable activities is a ropes course where the teens had to work as a team to get through an obstacle course. The students had to quickly get to know each other and work together to get to complete the course. “There were so many team building exercises in the ropes course and I love how it makes the youth work together and become friends quickly,” Emily Fronk stated about the ropes course experience.
The students also saw the impact of the ropes course. “It made me better at helping people that need help,” said Aiden McClard. The students learned critical life lessons on how to work together to accomplish a common goal.
The students participated in several group activities. These activities included a talent show, which gave them a chance to showcase their special skills. There was a dance for the students that gave them a space to socialize and have fun. Also, several sports activities gave the students an opportunity to work together as a team and get to know each other.
Quite possibly the most important aspect of the conference was the presenters who gave the teens invaluable life lessons. The speakers gave presentations on a variety of topics, from not being afraid to try new things to how discovering their purpose. These life-changing, motivational speakers also helped hone the leadership skills of the group.
Another impactful breakout session at the leadership challenge was “You’re the Boss” where students broke out into groups and acted as Board of Directors for a cooperative. They were tasked with making decisions about power purchasing and staffing. The teens got to see how their decisions along with several variables affected their simulated cooperative. These variables included environmental regulations, government regulations, the power market, employee benefits, and environmental conditions. The students got to see firsthand how their decisions directly affected the rates of their mock cooperatives. This gave them a deeper understanding of what a cooperative is and how it functions.
Beth Lee, the group’s coordinator, explains “The goals of the Michael F. Peterson Youth Leadership Challenge are to understand cooperative utilities, build self-confidence, build collaboration and teamwork skills, and develop leadership skills through a multitude of activities and speakers.” The challenge successfully helped the youth grow and develop as leaders.
Aiden McClard explained that the Leadership Challenge taught him “that there are all types of different people in this world and leaders will adapt to those people and help lead them.” He explained that important lessons from the challenge allowed him to “be able to work with and listen to every type of person, as well as, meet new people and connect with them.”
The Michael F. Peterson Youth Leadership Challenge successfully created youth leaders in our community and many others. “The difference you see in the youth from the first day to the last night is wonderful to see,” Emily Fronk said.