YVEA launches education campaign

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Yampa Valley Electric Association is looking to help schoolchildren understand how electricity works and the role rural co-ops play in delivering it to their homes.

Through a partnership with Touchstone Energy Cooperatives and Discovery Channel School, YVEA can provide schools with kits that teach students the basics about electricity, a philosophy about conserving resources, and the cooperative that brings electricity to their homes, said Jim Chappell, YVEA's manager of consumer accounts.

Public schools in Moffat and Routt counties, along with Christian Heritage School in Steamboat Springs have contacted Chappell to receive the kits, which he is expecting any day.

"I've already expected them," Chappell said. "But there was quite an order nationally. There was greater-than-anticipated demand."

Some larger co-ops have personnel that teach electricity in schools. Smaller electric companies don't have those resources, Chappell said. But a roundtable discussion among Touchstone's member companies revealed that providing schools with educational materials about electricity was a priority.

"We need to get information for teachers who wonder how to teach about electricity," Chappell said.

And since Discovery had just produced a program about electricity, Chappell said the co-ops decided to partner with Discovery to develop an educational kit.

The kit is billed as "high quality, content-rich educational materials." It includes interactive CD-ROMs, teacher resource guides, student study guides and other materials.

It also includes suggested sample experiments using items like magnets, which teach some simple principles of electricity, Chappell said.

The materials touch on the diminishing supply of natural resources and present a philosophy of conservation, Chappell said.

The course doesn't get into specifics about energy-saving measures at home, but he's hoping it may foster a concern about saving electricity that may turn the tables on the old cliche in which the parents scold children for not turning off the lights.

If children begin to remind their parents about wasteful practices, perhaps the parents will contact YVEA.

"Hopefully parents will contact us on specific ways they can save on their electric bill," Chappell said. "We encourage people to use our product wisely."

In another educational endeavor, YVEA provides schools with safety demonstrations. It describes the safe use of electricity and steps to take if one encounters an accident with electricity.

"We figure a safe public is a lot happier," said YVEA President and General Manager Larry Covillo.

Promoting the safe use of electricity is part of the company's job, Covillo said.

Chappell will send a representative from his office to deliver the safety demonstration to any school in the company's 7,000 square-mile service area, which includes Steamboat Springs, Yampa, Hayden, Craig, Maybell and even Baggs, Wyo.

"All they have to do is schedule it," Chappell said.

Jeremy Browning can be reached at 824-7031 or jbrowning@craigdailypress.com

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