Kids love to collect things, and a Georgia electric cooperative is harnessing that fervor with a set of trading cards to get its youngest members thinking about co-op careers.

Coweta-Fayette EMC’s trading cards show employees at work in 20 different job roles at the Palmetto-based co-op. The front of the card shows a photo of a staff member, and the other side lists educational requirements and job skills, with the goal of helping elementary and middle school students determine whether they might enjoy working in that role.

Co-op lineworkers and other staff distribute the cards during in-school safety demonstrations, career days and other community events.

“We wanted to tell elementary and middle-school kids, ‘Hey, you don’t have to be a lineman to work here’ and show them the different job opportunities and that if they liked doing certain things, they could have the opportunity to do that as a career,” said Chellie Phillips, the co-op’s vice president of communications and public relations.

Eleven-year-old Pokemon card collector Cooper Phillips, the son of the co-op’s community relations coordinator, Megan Phillips (no relation to Chellie), was the inspiration behind the first batch of cards in 2019.

“Kids that age get excited about them, and one is not enough. They want all of them,” she said.

She used graphic design tool Canva for the layout and then hired a local printer to cut and print the cards on heavy paper stock.

She didn’t have to go far to find card models. Coweta-Fayette employees are pictured with the tools of their trade—a cashier is handling money; a lineworker is wearing a hard hat and insulated sleeves; and a communicator has a camera around her neck.

Each card has an interactive approach to help youngsters decide whether a particular job is for them. The accountant card, for example, says: “If you enjoy math problems, using computers, problem solving, writing, working as a team, counting money, being organized, detail-oriented…You might consider a career as an accountant.”

The cards are a kid-friendly eye-opener on the array of co-op careers, said Coweta-Fayette’s Fallon Johnson, a general accountant who’s featured on the accountant card.

“When you think of electric companies, you think of the people who restore your power. You don’t realize all the job opportunities that help with the day-to-day functions of a co-op.”

At least one other co-op, Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services in Wisconsin, has a set of trading cards in the works.

“We’re doing something similar but with a twist,” said Liz Gunderson, communications coordinator at the Ellsworth-based co-op. “We’re calling ours ‘co-op heroes’ and putting capes and masks on the employees in the photos.”

At Coweta-Fayette, Megan Phillips updates the cards as the co-op adds classifications within a job position. Right now, she’s working on new cards for IT and engineering.

She said an added bonus of the cards is a boost in employee morale.

“They each get a box to pass out in the community,” she said. “They may not admit it, but they like being on them!”