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Development Direction

A mean wearing a blue dress shirt leans against a desk.
The 4-H Youth Development Program works with the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi.

Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi support 4-H

Story by Keri Collins Lewis • Photos by Kevin Hudson

Working together is a core value for the Mississippi State University Extension Service’s 4-H Youth Development Program. That makes a partnership with Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi a natural fit.

Cooperatives are member-owned and member-controlled businesses, and they successfully provide electric service, farm supplies, financing, and many other services.

Under the direction of retired CEO and former 4-H’er Hobson Waits, Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi (ECM) began supporting the 4-H Cooperative and Leadership Conference. Their support has continued under the leadership of current CEO Michael Callahan.

Ron Stewart, ECM senior vice president for communications and 4-H Advisory Board member, explains ECM’s ongoing commitment to the state’s young leaders.

“We appreciate the opportunity to invest in the education and development of young people and share with them important skills needed to prepare them for leadership roles.”

— RON STEWART

“We appreciate the opportunity to invest in the education and development of young people and share with them important skills needed to prepare them for leadership roles,” he explains. “Our involvement allows us to use our cooperative business model as a tool to be used as they work with others in accomplishing their goals.”

Stewart has spent 44 years working for cooperatives. He believes they are the best business model because they exist solely to serve their memberships and are rooted in the communities they serve.

“A large percent of 4-H’ers live in the more than 675,000 residences energized by one of our 25 electric cooperatives,” Stewart adds. “We are actively involved in the communities and schools we serve. We are proud to be part of an organization that truly cares about young people.”

In addition to support for the state-level program, ECM’s members actively support local 4-H clubs.

“Young people are eager for others to show them the way to achieve success and play a vital part in leadership,” Stewart says. “If you are not involved with your time, talents, and financial contributions, please contact 4-H leaders for ways you can get involved. It only takes a little time and a few dollars to make a difference.

“Nothing brings us more joy than seeing and hearing from students whose lives have been impacted by our donation and support. 4-H has a proven track record in developing tomorrow’s leaders,” he concludes.

Will Staggers, MSU Foundation assistant director of development for Extension, said ECM’s financial support has made a long-term positive impact on 4-H and its members.

“The Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi offer their experiences, their business model, and their support of what is possible for the state’s young people,” Staggers says. “They help expand 4-H’ers’ horizons. We appreciate all of the cooperatives for their support of 4-H!”

To learn more about opportunities to support 4-H, contact Staggers at (662) 325-2837 or wstaggers@foundation. msstate.edu.

MSU Extension Service
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