“We believe the implication of cooperation is that people are not working against one another. But when there is a true collaboration, they are working for one another. They are intentionally going in the same direction, helping one another to achieve something they all feel is worthwhile.”
Education and training are essential to the success of SEMO Electric Cooperative and GoSEMO Fiber. The fifth Principle of Cooperatives is Education, Training, and Information. The cooperative uses this magazine, and other sources, to inform members, elected officials, and the general public about the nature and benefits of the cooperative. Likewise, SEMO conducts internal training to educate employees (Team SEMO) and its partners-vendors so they can contribute effectively to the development and sustainability of the cooperative.
SEMO recently reactivated Camp SEMO (the camp was paused due to COVID-19) for new staff members and attorneys from Lukas, LaFuria, Gutierrez & Sachs, LLP. LLGS provides SEMO with regulatory compliance guidance regarding the rules and licensing policies of the Federal Communications Commission and state public utility commissions.
Camp SEMO is a one-day, fast-paced, all-inclusive, indoor and outdoor 12-hour event to give attendees a behind-the-scenes look at the teamwork and collaboration required by Team SEMO to deliver electricity and broadband services to SEMO’s member consumers. Trainees rotate through departments including safety, operations, member services, subscriber services, engineering design, mapping, metering, dispatch, accounting and billing, construction, materials, fleet and vegetation management, and legislative and public relations. Plus, a 50-foot bucket ride with one of our linemen.
The key to Camp SEMO’s success is the fact that Team SEMO teaches. My role is to start the day with safety and then help move attendees through 30-minute segments during the first half of the day. In the afternoon, rain or shine, cold or hot, we get attendees’ boots dirty by spending time with electric construction crews or a fiber installation crew. In most cases, campers get to meet a member-consumer face-to-face to see the impact Team SEMO makes on people’s lives by providing essential services. It’s just part of our daily lives.
By attending Camp SEMO, our employees – Team SEMO – gain a better understanding of how the SEMO Electric/GoSEMO puzzle fits together. Our visitors from various places in the United States, garner a better grasp of the collaboration it takes to deliver electricity and fiber to rural America. It’s fewer people per mile. It’s more miles to drive. There isn’t a Starbucks in our service territory. It’s rural. In return, the products and services we receive from our partners-vendors are more suited for you and our area. Also, we learned during Camp SEMO. The questions we receive from campers give us a new perspective, and perhaps ideas, to enhance our processes and procedures.
Nearly 100 individuals have attended Camp SEMO since its inception in 2013. The Camp’s first attendee was Jo Ann Emerson, former Missouri Eighth District congressional representative. Thank you to Team SEMO for helping educate and train others as we pay it forward. The payback is immeasurable. Thank you for supporting us. Happy New Year!
Book of the Month: “We believe the implication of cooperation is that people are not working against one another. But when there is a true collaboration, they are working for one another. They are intentionally going in the same direction, helping one another to achieve something they all feel is worthwhile.” Change Your World by John C. Maxwell and Rob Hoskins Book
Be smart. Act safe. #keeppushingforward
Sean is the general manager and chief executive officer of SEMO Electric Cooperative.