November/December 2021

Our Communities is a story and picture feature that celebrates the spirit of co-op country. Have a submission that depicts your co-op or community? Contact [email protected].

Coming Out On Top

ASHLEY KNAPP COULDN’T HELP BUT FEEL A LITTLE TUG AT THE HEART as she showed a group of high school-age girls the secrets of operating a bucket truck.

Knapp, who represents Altec, a manufacturer of hydraulic equipment, chanced upon the electric utility business years ago. So she appreciated the opportunity to give participants at the first Girl Power Camp a more proper introduction to the field.

“I think it’s important that we pull diversity into an industry that’s not been diverse until here recently,” she says. “To see young folks and young females looking at it is exciting. It’s not limited to the gender. It’s the exposure and the understanding that you can do it, too.”

Knapp was among the presenters at the camp, sponsored in September by the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives at its training center in Palmyra, Va. Eleven girls representing six electric cooperatives climbed poles, wielded hot sticks and learned how to lower and raise the bucket on an Altec-Rappahannock Electric Cooperative truck.

“When I first started in this industry, it was not uncommon for me to be the only female at an event,” adds Melissa Rogers of North Carolina-based Lekson Associates, a manufacturer’s representative. “Now, that’s changing a lot. We see female workers in the field, we see female engineers, in business roles, all over the place.”

In other words, opportunity awaits those who grab it. As McKenzie Hines, a participant from

Rockbridge County (Va.) High School, put it: “It makes you proud to see all these women here to do something outside the box.”

For more, visit vmdaec.com and search for “girl power camp.”