All Wired Up

Walton EMC Teams with FFA to Prepare Next Generation of Electricians


Jennifer Broun is looking for a few good high school students. As Walton EMC’s community and youth representative, she leads the cooperative’s support of the FFA Electrification Career Development Event (CDE), a competitive high school educational program that promotes the safe, efficient use of electricity and offers scholarships.

Participating in the activity may also help a student choose a career path.

“Students gain skills they can turn into a job as an electrician, electrical engineer, heating and air conditioning contractor, or even working with an electric utility like ours,” said Broun. 

Though the 2018 contest won’t occur for several months, preparation is beginning now. High school agriculture mechanics teachers are covering electrification curriculum in class and identifying students willing to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to compete.

Co-op Supports Contest

Walton EMC hosts a sub-region electrification contest at the co-op’s Monroe headquarters each October. Two participants from each participating school compete in hands-on, oral and written electrical problem-solving activities. Top finishers earn the opportunity to represent their school at the FFA North Region contest in December.

Electric co-ops in North Georgia hosted the first electrification contest in 1966. The competition, commonly known as the EMC-FFA Electrification Contest, became a statewide event sponsored by Georgia EMCs in 1968.

“We have a tremendous partnership with Walton EMC,” said Sidney Bell, agricultural mechanics area teacher for FFA’s North Region. Co-op personnel take an active role in all facets of the contest, from setting up equipment to serving as judges to providing lunch for contestants.

“Every EMC person who is involved in the contest has a real passion for young people,” Bell added. “It’s so important for these students to witness this support. It reminds them they are accomplishing something special.”

Scholarships Up for Grabs

In addition to developing skills, students compete for scholarships that can be used at a college, university or vocational institution.

The region winner receives a $500 scholarship with second place garnering a $300 scholarship. Both advance to the state contest held in January.

The state winner takes home a $1,000 scholarship. Second and third place are rewarded with scholarships valued at $750 and $500, respectively.

Top Prospects

Student participants put in many hours of training and studying in preparation for the electrification contest.

“Any student who shows up for the contest is very self-motivated and determined,” said Broun.

These are just the kind of people Walton EMC wants on its team.

“We want to hire knowledgeable, dedicated individuals to help maintain our reliable electricity distribution system,” said Ronnie Lee, Walton EMC’s CEO.

In fact, some previous Electrification CDE winners are already among Walton EMC’s ranks. Project Engineer Darren Drake is a previous state winner. Greg Brooks, the co-op’s community and public relations director, earned second place in the state contest.

Students interested in competing in the EMC-FFA Electrification CDE can get a start by visiting the Georgia EMC website ( for contest details and download the “Student Guide to Wiring”.

FFA students from area schools complete a real life electrical wiring exercise at Walton EMC's Monroe headquarters. The Career Development Event is sponsored annually by the cooperative.

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