NRECA is retooling its 30-year-old Certified Cooperative Communicator Program into a blended-learning course in which students meet in groups, both in-person and online, and present a final project at the annual Connect conference.

The revamped program will operate much like the Management Internship Program, Certified Loss Control Professional Program and other NRECA professional development courses.

The CCC changes go beyond ensuring that co-op communicators and marketers acquire skills in writing press releases or creating newsletters or member communication plans.

“As cooperatives and the industry has evolved, co-op communicators have had to become more strategic in their daily work," said NRECA's Christine Miller, manager for executive education, training and events. She helped devise the new curriculum with input from current CCCs as well as a variety of other internal and external communications experts.

“So, now it's how do you strategically develop and execute a communications plan, a crisis communications plan, or a marketing and marketing branding guide and then implement those plans to benefit your cooperative?"

The cohort-based approach is a major feature of the revamped CCC program, with groups attending a mixture of in-person, live and self-paced online courses totaling more than 93 hours.

A group of peers is “one of the best ways that adults learn," said Miller. “Studies show that adults learn just as much from fellow students as they do from instructors and facilitators. Building those relationships with other peers in the industry, from other cooperatives, really creates that network of professionals that you can rely on and count on for years to come."

The reimagined program will kick off in mid-July 2022 with a week of in-person courses at NRECA headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. Participants will present their final projects and graduate together at the Connect conference in May 2023.

Under the new program's design, applicants will no longer study on their own to take a four-hour written exam. Instead, participants' knowledge will be checked throughout the program as well as demonstrated through actual application in their final projects.

Enrollment in the new program is capped at 30, and about half those spots are taken, said Miller.

The CCC Body of Knowledge, a study guide developed by active CCCs that past students have used to prepare for the exam, is the foundation for building the new program, said Miller.

“There's a lot of really great information and we're using all of the work from the past 30 years as a springboard," she said.

Visit the CCC page to learn more details and register for the program.