Like so many parents across the country, Midland Power Cooperative’s Abbey Sprague and her husband are doing double duty at their Boone, Iowa, home these days, juggling telework and finding stimulating activities for their two young children.
Sprague, director of corporate relations at the Jefferson, Iowa, co-op, understands the challenges of parenting during the coronavirus pandemic firsthand as she works from a makeshift office in her laundry room while her husband tries to keep the kids occupied. She’s one of a growing number of co-op communicators reaching out via co-op social media channels to offer creative solutions to members facing similar hurdles.
Sprague is steering parents to K-12 resources from electrical safety groups, posting examples of coloring and activity pages and supplemental educational material on an “Activity Central album” on Facebook.
“We all know the importance and value of electrical safety and efficiency education, and there’s no time better than now to reach out to our members to help them share this message with the next generation,” said Sprague.
The outreach is all part of co-ops’ efforts to remind members that they are a community resource.
“Co-ops are finding new ways to engage members through social media and other digital channels,” said Abby Berry, NRECA’s consumer content manager. “We’ve seen several innovative engagement ideas. Their response to this event is a testament to the many ways electric co-ops add value to the communities they serve.”
Tri-County Electric Cooperative’s Leslie Kraich is using social media to promote a newly digitized version of the Hooker, Oklahoma, co-op’s annual student poster contest.
In previous years, third through sixth graders submitted posters on an electrical safety topic to their teachers, who then delivered the entries to the co-op. This year, with widespread closures of schools, entry forms are available on the co-op’s website for students to upload photos of their artwork. The contest has been expanded to include middle schoolers and high schoolers.
“We hope it will give members at home a learning activity to participate in to alleviate social distancing,” said Kraich, the co-op’s community and member relations coordinator.
York Electric Cooperative began its #LearnwithYEC initiative to post educational materials on Facebook on March 16, the day the South Carolina Department of Education closed schools until April 30.
“We have great relationships with our local school districts and knew we had to find a way to help,” said Porter Gable, communications coordinator at the York, South Carolina, co-op. “Our ideas have mostly come from brainstorming and using materials we already had in new ways.”
One product of that brainstorm: a new video on lineworker safety gear packaged with coloring contest material.
“From better educating the community about cooperatives to electrical safety, our goal is to create content that engages our members,” said Gable.
Vickie A. Rocha is a staff writer at NRECA.
See NRECA’s COVID-19 hub on cooperative.com for key resources for co-ops, including guidance on business continuity planning and communication, as well as event schedule changes.