14:01 PM

Perspective: Preparing Our Youth

Chip Jakins, Jackson EMC CEOOK, I admit it. I’m impressed with what kids nowadays accomplish. I mean, when I was a kid, playing to win against the aliens in Space Invaders was tough stuff. I still listened to music on record players. My definition of a pen pal meant writing an actual letter to someone and putting it in the mail — then waiting until they responded.

Our kids today live in a faster, more connected world. They are smart. They are focused. And many of them have a social awareness that I don’t recall my generation embracing. Millennials tend to get a bad rap, but I see a promising future ahead for these young people. Just think of how much more complex our world is today – and how our youth are rising to meet those challenges.

At Jackson EMC, we know the importance of providing young people with opportunities to grow and develop. And as a good community partner, we have long embraced our role in guiding young people to a brighter future.

Take, for example, our longstanding support of the FFA’s wiring contest and the Jackson EMC Quality Beef Show. These events bring together high school students to compete in a meaningful way that develops hands-on knowledge of both technical wiring and animal sciences. We’ve been supporting these programs since each was started over 50 years ago. Both programs started decades ago to spark the interests of the student competitors and involve them in activities that teach life-long skills. It’s no surprise that many of those same students, equipped with valuable skills and a passion for learning, later became employees in electric cooperatives across the state.

We also support other education programs for youth in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM). In this issue of JEMCO News, you’ll read about just a few of our student interns who plan to become engineers. Those students participated in robotics programs funded, in part, by the Jackson EMC Foundation. A little encouragement for their passion as younger kids is resulting in their decision for a career in engineering. Now, that’s pretty cool!

In middle school classrooms, the Bright Ideas program has funded some really innovative projects. Kinetic sculptures and animatronics, wind turbines, 3D printing, solar cars and drones are just some of the hands-on learning projects we’ve helped support for students. You’d think lessons like these would happen in high school or even college. But, it’s really quite impressive that these types of projects are taking place in middle schools.

For high school students, we also have a long history of supporting the Washington Youth Tour, an opportunity for selected delegates to represent Jackson EMC in Washington, D.C. Other EMCs across the nation also participate in this week-long leadership development program. I’m always impressed by the caliber of students who apply to the Washington Youth Tour.

In my opinion, the time and energy we devote today to projects like these are the best investment we can make in our youth and our future leaders of tomorrow.

Have a suggestion how we can better serve youth? Send me an email at [email protected]