Everything listed under: NRECA

  • Energy Trails Project Lights Up Bolivia

    In August 2016, six Missouri lineworkers joined six volunteers from Oklahoma on a 16-day electrification project in Amazonian Bolivia. The project, called Energy Trails, brought power to 361 rural Bolivian families, making their villages safer and improving their quality of life.

    Free Land But No Electricity
    The villages of El Torito and Dos de Junio sit on the outskirts of the city of Riberalta. Villagers moved to their rural communities when the Bolivian government offered them free plots of land with the promise of electricity to come: Riberalta had electricity before the Energy Trails project, but the villages did not.

    Photo Credit: Jim McCarthy and Rural Missouri

    Homes in El Torito and Dos de Junio are small and basic. Cooperative volunteers described them as being just one or two rooms with dirt floors, no running water, and, of course, no electric power. Brandon Steffan of West Central Electric Cooperative in Higginsville talked with Electric Co-op Today about how hard it is to imagine life without electricity:

    “It’s 2016. You never think there are people that don’t have power. You just assume everybody has it. And the people here have gone so long without it. I don’t think they know exactly how much it’s probably going to change their life.”

    Lilian Maguayo, the president of the El Torito community, might not have known exactly how much her life would change with electrification, but she had some idea. She knew that electricity would offer her community access to better healthcare and education, and she believed that electric power could give the villagers of El Torito something even more powerful:

    “You’re coming here to give us hope” (source).

    Read More: On the Ground in Bolivia (from Rural Electric Magazine)

    Safer Streets and Rewarding Work

    Before Energy Trails, the streets of El Torito and Dos de Junio were dark at night. Motorbike taxi drivers from the city were often unwilling to drive villagers after dark because it was too difficult to see bumps and holes in the dirt road. Criminals wielding machetes sometimes hid in the dark along the road, too, making foot travel frightening and unsafe.

    Without a way to get safely to hospitals in Riberalta after dark, villagers couldn’t always get adequate, timely medical care. Energy Trails volunteers like Jared Kelley of SEMO Electric Cooperative in Sikeston appreciated the opportunity to help change that. Kelley told Electric Co-op Today that while he’s always found his Cooperative work rewarding, the rewards he got from volunteering in Bolivia were “unreal.”

    Those rewards were hard-earned. Energy Trails project volunteers laid 250 new poles over ten miles, bringing power to 361 families in less than two weeks.

    “We use bucket trucks at home,” Kelley said. “We still climb some, but here it was all done with hooks, all manpower, and a lot of good guys to get it done (source).”

    Kelley was one of six Missouri linesmen selected to participate in Energy Trails. Volunteers were chosen from among 18 total volunteers at 12 of your Missouri Electric Cooperatives.

    Read More: The Energy Trails Blog 
    by the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives

    Photo Credit: Jim McCarthy and Rural Missouri

    Your Missouri Electric Cooperatives’ Energy Trails Volunteers
    Missouri Energy Trails volunteers included Steven Smith of Northeast Missouri Electric Power Cooperative in Palmyra, Robert Hawkins of Boone Electric Cooperative in Columbia, Tom Golder of Osage Valley Electric Cooperative in Butler, John Winther of Laclede Electric Cooperative in Lebanon, Brandon Steffan of West Central Electric Cooperative in Higginsville, and Jared Kelley of SEMO Electric Cooperative in Sikeston.

    About Energy Trails
    The Energy Trails project was made possible through a partnership between the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives (AMEC) and the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives (OAEC) through the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s International Program. The project was completed with the help of local Bolivian Cooperative, Cooperativa Electrica Riberalta.

    About NRECA International
    For 50 years, NRECA International has provided women, men and children in developing countries with access to safe, reliable and affordable electricity. As a global leader in the design and implementation of successful and sustainable rural electrification programs, NRECA International works to bring electricity to the world, thereby improving health, education and economic opportunities and helping to create parity of opportunity for millions in the developing world.

    Learn More
    Learn more about Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives, and how we work to provide safe, efficient energy to rural Missouri by following us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram

  • An investment in youth

    A lot of names have been coined to describe the nation’s youth. You’ve probably heard of Generation X, Millennial Kids, Boomerangs and the Google Generation. These terms often seek to stereotype today’s youth as a generation that only cares for themselves and the strength of their wireless signal.

    Your electric cooperative looks at our youth in an entirely different way. We see them as future torchbearers, a Generation L, which stands for leader. That’s why electric cooperatives devote so much time and energy to supporting rural youth.

    Around the state, you can find electric cooperative employees involved in just about every type of youth activity there is: 4-H, FFA, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, to name just a few.

    One of my earliest jobs with Missouri’s electric cooperatives was to accompany a group of teenagers on a co-op-sponsored trip to Washington, D.C., called the Youth Tour. I said it after my first such trip, and our current Youth Tour director, Mike Marsch, has said it after every trip he’s been on: If the kids who take part in Youth Tour are any indication, the future of our nation is in great hands.


    When it comes to future leaders, often all that is required is a slight nudge in the right direction. That is what our youth programs do best. For example, being selected for the Youth Tour requires writing an essay or putting together a presentation, then standing in front of a group in your best suit or dress and getting your first taste of public speaking.

    Those who earn the honor of representing their electric cooperative on this “trip of a lifetime” are exposed to different cultures as they mingle with hundreds of other rural youth from other states. They learn what makes electric cooperatives different from other forms of business, see the monuments to America’s greatness and meet face to face with Missouri’s congressional delegation.

    For more than 50 years, the Youth Tour has fulfilled the dream of President Lyndon B. Johnson, who inspired the trip in 1957 when he declared, “If one thing goes out of this meeting, it will be sending youngsters to the national capital where they can actually see what the flag stands for and represents.”

    This year, Missouri will send its largest group ever to our nation’s capital — more than 100 of the best and brightest.

    But our quest to create new leaders won’t end when the Youth Tour delegates say their final teary-eyed goodbyes. In July, another 100-plus rural youth will descend on Jefferson City for the annual Cooperative Youth Conference and Leadership Experience, or CYCLE.

    This event, now in its 13th year, is an intense but fun-filled focus on how state government works. During its three days, the CYCLE program takes youth to the Missouri Capitol where they sit in the same desks occupied by their elected officials and craft their own mock legislation.

    We also work closely with 4-H and FFA, sponsoring their state conferences and award programs.

    Another program that gets strong support from Missouri’s electric co-ops is Agricultural Leadership of Tommorrow, or ALOT. That group often meets at our statewide headquarters. I am always impressed by the enthusiasm from these young men and women who want to improve our state’s largest industry.

    By hosting these programs, we hope to serve as a stepping stone for youth leadership development. It is our sincere hope that these youth return to their communities and continue to learn from local leaders, educators and electric co-op staff so they will move into positions of leadership later in life.

    Whether it is paying for a trip to our nation’s capital, offering meeting space to local 4-H clubs or giving up time to umpire a Little League game, electric cooperatives see supporting youth as a wise investment to ensure we will always have leaders to move rural Missouri forward.

  • The Rural Electrification Act (REA) Turns 80 this Year

    This year is the 80th birthday of the Rural Electrification Act (REA). The REA, which was enacted in 1936 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as part of the New Deal, helped bring electricity to some of Missouri’s rural areas for the first time. In fact, if it weren’t for the REA, Missouri might not have the power infrastructure we have today.


    Bridging an Economic Divide in the 1930s

    When the REA was established, there was a massive divide between the access that urban and rural communities had to electric power. In urban communities an estimated 90 percent of people had electricity, but in rural communities that number was closer to 10 percent.

    In 1937, Odette Keun, author of A Foreigner Looks at TVA said, “About ninety per cent of the citizens on farms, say the statistics, do not have the lighting and the simple comforts that have become a commonplace in most middle-class dwellings in urban communities (source).”

    The REA helped bridge that divide by establishing electric cooperatives, setting up a rural power distribution network, and even bringing electricians to rural farms to install wiring, outlets, and light fixtures.

     Bringing Electricity to Rural Missouri

    Your Missouri Electric Cooperative probably wouldn’t exist today without the REA. In just its first three years, the agency helped establish 417 American electric cooperatives, including the Missouri Rural Electric Cooperative in northeastern Missouri (source).

    The first 155 miles of the Missouri Rural Electric Cooperative’s line was made possible by REA loans in 1936 and 1937 (source). That line helped connect farms in Palmyra, Lewis, Marion, Monroe, Ralls, and Shelby Counties to electric power for the very first time.

    The REA didn’t just help establish Cooperatives, though: It also brought electricians into rural areas to help wire homes and barns. Wikipedia explains that “REA crews traveled through the American countryside, bringing teams of electricians along with them. The electricians added wiring to houses and barns to utilize the newly available power provided by the line crews (source).”

    Those electricians helped ensure that homes had ceiling-mounted light fixtures, light switches, and wall outlets. Since electric appliances weren’t common at that time, most homes didn’t need more than one outlet per room.

    Electricity Boosted Local Economies

    Once rural farms were wired for electricity, rural farmers wanted to be able to light their homes, keep their food refrigerated, and make everyday chores like cooking and laundry easier for their families. Purchasing light bulbs, light fixtures, and appliances helped boost business for local stores.

    The New Deal Network explains that, “When famers did receive electric power their purchase of electric appliances helped to increase sales for local merchants (source).” From electric ranges to refrigerators, electric appliances didn’t just help local businesses, they also helped improve quality of life for rural Missourians.

    The REA is part of the history and heritage of your Missouri Electric Cooperatives. We’re proud to have helped bring electricity to rural Missouri — improving the rural quality of life and boosting rural economies — since the 1930s. Our dedication to bringing reliable, affordable energy to you continues today.

     You can learn more about your local Cooperatives and how we work to provide safe, efficient energy to rural Missouri by following us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram

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