By Steve Seidl
This time of year, we’re inclined to look back and reflect on highlights and achievements. This December holds special significance for me as I retire from the board of the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives (IAEC) after 15 years of service.
Commitment to collaboration
IAEC's just held its annual meeting of members in early December and our theme was “Partners in Progress.” I think it’s a fitting theme for what Iowa’s electric cooperatives aim to achieve on behalf of the member-consumers we serve every day. As the statewide association works hard to serve, support and advocate for its member cooperatives, much of our success is due to collaboration and working with key partners. Only through teamwork can we identify opportunities and provide the best strategic solutions for the members we serve.
For example, we joined forces with the Iowa Institute for Cooperatives and the Iowa Credit Union League to develop an awareness campaign to celebrate National Co-op Month in October. By partnering together on this initiative, we developed communication resources to educate Iowans on the many benefits of cooperative membership and to share how cooperatives contribute to our state’s economy. We look forward to building on this effort by sharing information at www.IowaCooperatives.com.
Supporting youth and recognizing volunteers
When the national Electric Cooperative Youth Tour canceled its student trip to Washington, D.C., in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID restrictions, we needed to rebuild momentum for the program when it returns in 2022. IAEC worked with our members to develop the Iowa Youth Leadership Academy, which consisted of three virtual sessions in October for rural Iowa high school students. More than 130 students registered for the opportunity to learn more about the co-op business model, electric co-op careers and advocacy. We hope these students will apply for the 2022 Youth Tour trip to D.C.
And as you read in our summer issues of the magazine, the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives of Iowa worked together to celebrate local community volunteers through our new Shine the Light contest. This statewide contest will return in June 2022; learn more at www.IowaShineTheLight.com.
As I step away from the IAEC board, I would like to recognize two other statewide directors who have retired recently. Don Shonka of East-Central Iowa Rural Electric Cooperative and Darrell Jensen of Farmers Electric Cooperative, Inc. have devoted many years of valuable guidance and direction to Iowa’s electric cooperatives through their service on the IAEC board.
I also wish to extend my appreciation and thanks to current and past statewide directors who helped me with their input and guidance. Lastly, and most importantly, I need to recognize the IAEC staff for their dedication to Iowa’s electric cooperatives. Without them, we would not be as successful as we are today, and I am gratefully indebted to them.
I encourage you to serve as a board director of your local electric cooperative if you have the opportunity; it’s a great way to learn about the electric industry and to support your community. I wish you and your family a blessed Christmas season.
Steve Seidl is the retiring board president of the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives.