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A Glimpse of Potential

Gaining a new perspective on success

Jan/Feb 2023

by Jim Robertson, Staff Writer

“ I got half way up the pole! I didn’t want to stop. I used to be afraid
of heights.” — Ti’Onna Dupuy, Farmville, Va.

Young women throughout Virginia challenged their determination to reach new heights at this year’s Girl Power Camp, hosted by the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives, its member cooperatives and generous partners.

On Dec. 2, several determined young women gathered for the second annual event at the Association’s training facility in Palmyra, Va., for an interactive experience introducing them to a variety of career paths.

“I had a lot of fun, made more friends, and felt like I belonged.”Savannah Massie, Monroe, Va.

The one-day energy career experience is intended for high school girls interested or curious about working on a line crew, in a substation, as a drone operator, with advanced metering technology or as a fiber broadband technician. Instructors led students through various activities in the classroom and outdoors. Campers learned about safety on the job, including how to safely climb a utility pole and operate a bucket truck — some were even able to help operate a drone.

Students also individually met with industry human resources professionals to review their goals, discuss interviewing best practices and develop a personal “elevator speech.”

Blaine Salmans, Safety Manager, Northern Neck Electric Cooperative, assists Dehlilaray Roop, Linden, Va.

“I’ve decided I definitely want to pursue becoming a lineworker,” says Chessa Trimble, who is currently an apprentice electrician, after an exciting day at camp.

With more women taking on roles in the field, attracting them to the responsibilities and teamwork of a line crew remains a challenge. These types of operations roles can often lead to a variety of leadership opportunities within an organization.

Leah Henshaw of Madison County uses a preform tie to secure a (disconnected) hot wire.

“It was a true learning experience with none of the performance pressure sometimes found in a classroom,” says Jane Baker, director of career and technical education and principal at Blue Ridge Technical School. “The variety was exceptional, and my students came back ‘pumped’ about the experience. We’ll definitely be attending next year.”

Madison County High School Principal Betty-Jo Wynham described the event as a great example of how community partnerships can help expand learning beyond the classroom walls and help students discover the diverse career opportunities available to them.

“Hearing from women who are passionate about their careers in this industry and the pathways they took to get there paired with hands-on learning experiences was very powerful and proved to showcase career opportunities better than any human resources website,” says Wynham, who is also the career and technical education administrator at MCHS.

► For more, visit vmdaec.com/powerfulcareers.


Several partners helped make this event possible, including Milwaukee Tool, Altec, Tyndale, Davey Resource Group, Bradley Electro, Utility Sales Associates, Lekson & Associates, Virginia 811, Southside Virginia Community College, Central Virginia Electric Cooperative, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, Northern Neck Electric Cooperative and other Virginia electric cooperatives.