By Casey Hollins, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative

What year did you earn your CCC, and what motivated you to seek your certification?

I earned my CCC in June 2014 (took the test at CONNECT in San Antonio). I began working in the electric cooperative communications field in 2010 and first heard about the CCC certification at the NRECA New Co-op Communicators Orientation. It was after attending that training that I began to look more into the program and what all was involved. I decided a few years later I felt ready to try it since I had gained some experience working in the industry. I wanted to earn my CCC certification to gain some additional credibility in the industry and to show my co-op’s leaders that I really care about the work I do. It was also an opportunity to challenge myself.

What is the most valuable thing you learned through the CCC certification process?

Applying for the CCC was certainly an involved process. Once my application was accepted, I began working on compiling my portfolio. It was such a valuable asset having my mentor, Mike Wilson with Eastern Illini Cooperative, look over everything and provide his suggestions. I was thrilled when my portfolio passed, and I began the process of studying for the exam. The most valuable book was “Power Plays” by Ted Case. That one was such an easy and interesting read to learn more about the history of electric cooperatives. I learned more about our industry as a whole and fine-tuned some of my communications skills by preparing for the exam. Through this process, I realized I knew more than I thought I did about our industry and felt better prepared to complete this process.

Has your certification changed the way you do your job?

Having earned my CCC gives me added confidence in doing my job. It lets me know that I’m doing something right and that I have the support of fellow cooperative communicators to call on if I need some advice or ideas. It shows our CEO and senior staff that I take my work seriously and always do my best. Having the CCC community to call on and read about their experiences in the newsletter lets me know there are others like me all around the country working through the same challenges; and together, we can make a positive impact on the electric cooperative industry.

What advice would you give anyone contemplating the CCC Certification process?

I would encourage anyone thinking about obtaining their CCC to go for it! Know that if you’ve been working in this field for even just a year, you know more than you think and are preparing for the exam every day just by doing your job. Don’t let the process intimidate you. It’s simply an evaluation to see what all you’ve learned about our industry and general communications skills.

What are some of your proudest accomplishments during your career at Carroll EMC?

I was the first hire in our newly-formed communications department in 2010. It’s exciting to look at where we started and see how much the department has taken on and grown throughout the past seven years.

I’m proud to have made it through several different storms while working at Carroll EMC. We haven’t experienced anything too damaging to our service area, but even with just a few thousand outages, managing our social media responses can be challenging. I’m proud of the strides our communications department has made in severe weather communications.

I really enjoy the event planning part of my job. I’ve had the opportunity to serve on a national committee for the Cooperative Communicators Association annual conference and have helped plan our statewide communicators conference twice. Also, I was asked to serve on the Touchstone Energy Cooperative Relations Advisory Board, which I still serve on today. I’ve been very grateful for that experience.

During my time at Carroll EMC, the cooperative has been chosen as a “Best Place to Work” in Georgia by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta Business Chronicle and Georgia Trend Magazine. We won EMC of the Year in the Georgia EMC Community Service/Volunteerism Awards, received numerous NRECA Spotlight on Excellence and CCA Communications Contest awards and our former CEO was chosen as the CEO Outstanding Communicator from CCA in 2013.

What do you enjoy most about being a part of co-op nation?

The family atmosphere, not only at my electric cooperative, but also with all cooperatives nationwide, can’t be matched! When I tell people who work outside our industry about my job, they are so surprised there are places to work that really care about their employees and members like we do. Through the years, I’ve also made some great friendships with fellow co-op communicators from across the country. These are friends I can call on for work or personal questions, and I’m so appreciative of each one. I’m very blessed to work at Carroll EMC and am thankful for the opportunity to be part of co-op nation!