By Nell McCauley, SEDC

In 2016, NRECA estimated that electric co-ops will hire approximately 15,000 new employees to replace retiring baby boomers. Many of those new employees will have cooperative communications duties due to the increased importance placed on the role of cooperative communicator. As Certified Cooperative Communicators, we have the opportunity to take on the important role of being mentors to new communicators joining the cooperative world. One of the early steps I recommend to any new or seasoned communicator new to their role as a cooperative communicator is to attend the New Co-op Communicator Orientation. Due to high demand, this orientation is now offered twice a year.

The three-day program provides a foundation on which cooperative communicators can build their career. I had the opportunity to participate in the fall 2017 session. After attending, I was able to reflect on the importance of attending the NCCO early in my career. The extremely talented new crop of communicators energized me. This unique training opportunity helps them decode the “alphabet soup” of acronyms that pepper our industry, network with other professional cooperative communicators, understand electricity basics, discuss major challenges, and learn about the industry and resources.

Do you know a new cooperative communicator you could mentor? If so, I highly recommend telling them about one of NRECA’s most popular training sessions - the NCCO. The interactive and often hands-on opportunity focuses on several key areas:

  • Understanding the electric cooperative business model and values
  • Current and near-future electric industry issues and challenges
  • Available resources: National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA); National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation (CFC); and Federated Rural Electric Insurance Exchange
  • Interactive sessions to provide focus on: crisis communication, Always On program, financial issues and resources, insurance/loss control/safety issues, networking tools and Touchstone Energy initiatives.

One of the most valuable benefits of NCCO is the opportunity to network with colleagues from across the country and from NRECA headquarters. I can still remember being empowered by the session during the day and exploring the nation’s capital at night with classmates I consider my friends to this day.

Please note the dates for fall and spring sessions below. Encourage new communicators to sign up soon as the sessions fill up fast. Information can be found on

Spring 2018 NCCO

March 06, 2018 - March 09, 2018 Arlington, VA

Fall 2018 NCCO

September 25, 2018 - September 28, 2018 Arlington, VA