CFC recently held one of its first in-person strategic planning session for a member since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The two-day event for Rochester, Indiana-based Fulton County REMC was also notable for the attendance of the cooperative’s two student board members.

“We’ve been trying to find ways to interact and learn from our younger members, and this program gives us access to future members and the opportunity to see what is important to their generation,” Fulton County REMC CEO Joe Koch said.

Student Board Member Program Launched in Fall of 2015

Launched in the fall of 2015, the student board member program gives high school juniors and seniors in the cooperative’s service territory the opportunity to serve on the board of directors for up to two years. Although they are not voting members of the board, the student directors participate in monthly board meetings and attend a range of other board functions during the year. In exchange for their service, the students can earn up to $1,500 in scholarship money.

“It’s a great opportunity to represent something bigger than yourself and help more people than just your own interest,” Student Board Director Aubrey Dague explained. “What I look for is what other people’s opinions are, then try to get a group consensus and make the best decision on what is going to make the greatest impact on a larger group of people.”

Program Helps Co-op Tell Their Story to a Future Generation of Members

The student board member program is part of Fulton County REMC’s member engagement strategy. “Through the program, our board and staff end up with a better understanding of what our future members want and expect,” Koch said. “It’s also a way for the cooperative to get its story and business model out in front of a future generation of members. We hope that one day one of our student directors will become a director for their district.”

Member engagement is becoming increasingly important, Koch added. “Each generation needs or wants something different from their electric cooperative. It’s important to develop trust with members through engagement, transparency and performance.”

“As a whole, our board realizes that all of us are here to do the best we can for our members,” Koch said. “This is an important point for our student directors to see and understand.”

The student directors have made several important contributions to the cooperative’s operations, Koch explained. “We have used their ideas for annual meetings and have incorporated their feedback into our mission statement. Two student directors also actively participated in our recent strategic planning session with CFC.”

CFC Led Strategic Planning Sessions Provide Value During Uncertain Times

Fulton County REMC chose CFC to assist with strategic planning based on recommendations from other cooperatives, CFC’s knowledge of the industry and because the service was provided at no additional cost, Koch said.

“The session went very well and we had great input from all participants, including the student directors,” Koch said.

“Strategic planning will definitely play a larger role for us in the future,” Koch added. “Especially with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are going to see a lot of change happening in the next five to 10 years.”

CFC’s strategic planning and facilitation services are an important value-added benefit of membership, Koch said. “We’re a small, 6,000-meter cooperative and these services really help us keep on track. And CFC is very knowledgeable and great to work with.”

Contact your CFC regional vice president for information on strategic planning and other services offered through CFC’s Strategic Services Group.