New Direction, Community Coming for Utility Communicator Program

Posted on Nov 3, 2021


Mike Teegarden, CCC

I have been a part of NRECA’s Certified Cooperative Communicator program for more than 20 years. Back in the day, several of us editors at Pioneer formed study teams for weekly quiz sessions since we were all studying for the test at the same time. We bonded over the nuances of co-ops, PUDs and municipal utilities and the stress of taking a four-hour exam we all felt pressure to pass.

As new Pioneer staffers began their CCC program journey, they had to go through it on their own. We helped where we could, but it just wasn’t the same.

Fast forward 20 years and I was elected to the CCC board, inspired in part to shape how the program would evolve. I joined a thoughtful group of board members and NRECA staffers who were ready to move the CCC program to the next level.

We had clear goals: 

  • Create a cohort system with in-person learning so those in the program would not have to go through it alone. 
  • Remove the stress of a four-hour, all-or-nothing test.
  • Prepare communicators to do their jobs well, rather than simply test their knowledge.
  • Offer value well after the credentials were earned.

The newly rolled-out CCC program will do all these things.

Starting in 2022, the CCC program will bring 30 candidates to Arlington, Virginia, for a week of in-person classes. 

The opportunity to be part of a cohort cannot be understated. Honestly, I’m jealous. 

Those 30 CCC candidates, which will include Pioneer’s Victoria Hampton, will form a bond that will follow them the rest of their careers.

After a week learning together, candidates move to online classes. Through the program, candidates will have a total of 93 hours of classes together.

But wait, there’s more. Rather than a big, scary test, candidates will complete a final project: a communications plan on a topic of their choosing. This is a win-win. Through the classes, candidates have learned the skills to complete this task, and now they get to put those skills in action. Their utilities get a comprehensive communications plan ready to implement. 

Once the project is graded, candidates will graduate together at the 2023 Connect Conference, and the next wave will prepare for their journey.

The learning doesn’t stop there. The next phase of the program is to create classes for those who have attained CCC status.

The job is always changing, and the CCC program should be there to help all of us grow and adjust through the years. I’m proud to have played a small part in reshaping a program that is poised to help the next generation of co-op communicators excel.

Learn more about the CCC program at www.Cooperative.com/CCC.

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