Education is key to navigating the future

Education doesn’t end with high school or college. Every day is a new opportunity to learn something new. Those who serve on your electric cooperative’s board of directors take that to heart.

Electric cooperative board members across Illinois are community-minded individuals with a variety of skill sets. Boards are made up of farmers, educators, business owners and much more. Co-ops rely on their many talents to help make informed decisions on long-term priorities and investments.

They always live right on their co-op’s lines, so they are considered the eyes and ears of the community because they provide their perspective on important community issues. It takes many people with different skills to create a well-rounded board that can represent the full spectrum of the community.

Each member uses their individual talents and perspective to guide big decisions about the co-op that in turn benefit the larger community. While day-to-day decisions are made by co-op staff, major decisions are made by the board, whose mission is to look out for the vitality of the co-op and the community it serves.

On a granular level, board members provide input and guidance on budgets, co-op goals and direction, charitable contributions, capital investments, upgrades in equipment and technology, renewable investments, and the co-op’s role and involvement in economic development.

While board directors don’t need to be experts in electricity, they do need a passion for the community and a willingness to actively serve and learn. That’s why specialized training opportunities are offered to board members across the state.

With these classes, boards can make informed decisions and gain a deeper understanding of the electric utility industry, the cooperative business model and local economic development efforts. Through the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s three-part Director Education Program, coordinated by the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives, Illinois co-op directors can continue their education.

Part one is the Credentialed Cooperative Director (CCD) program, which consists of five courses that focus on basic governance knowledge and the essential skills required of cooperative directors. The CCD prepares directors to fulfill their fiduciary duties as elected officials serving on behalf of their membership. Upon completion, directors are awarded the Credentialed Cooperative Director Certificate and can pursue the Board Leadership Certificate (BLC).

The BLC consists of a series of courses focusing in greater depth on specific industry and governance issues. These include issues such as risk management, power supply, parliamentary procedure, technology and policy development.

Many directors wish to continue their professional development to earn Director Gold. This credential recognizes directors committed to continuing their education beyond the CCD and BLC. This demonstrates their ongoing commitment to advancing their knowledge and performing their role to the best of their ability.

In Illinois, there are 168 electric cooperative directors that currently hold a CCD, 120 directors with a BLC and 95 with a Director Gold status.