Mike Taylor was a few days away from a scheduled pre-hire lineworker assessment at Paulding Putnam Electric Cooperative when his little brother, Tim, attended an Ohio Farm Bureau ExploreAg one-day program at the Central Ohio Lineworker Training facility in Mount Gilead.
Knowing his assessment was to be given at the same facility (which is owned and operated by Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives), Mike decided to tag along and do a little scouting; surely it couldn’t hurt his chances of doing well on the assessment — and he was right. He was hired on shortly thereafter at PPEC, where he’s now in the second year of an apprenticeship that leads to journeyman status. Tim made good use of that day as well and is now a lineworker with American Electric Power.
“I’d like to think we had a hand in getting them both started,” says Kyle Hoffman, coordinator of the COLT program for OEC. “As a participant, Timmy really got an up-close look at the job — it let him confirm it was what he wanted to do — and even though Mike only attended as a spectator, ExploreAg helped him gain a solid understanding of what was ahead to get hired at PPEC.”
ExploreAg is Ohio Farm Bureau’s signature agricultural literacy and workforce development program. The majority of its offerings, which are free, are week- and weekend-long immersion camps for high school students. Teens get a broad-spectrum look at agriculture and related STEM fields, develop their leadership and collaboration skills, and prepare for college and/or a career.
There’s a huge need for people in that line of work, and this is a great opportunity for anyone who thinks they might be interested to come in and find out what it’s all about.
Along with the broad-spectrum camps, the farm bureau also has expanded its ExploreAg offerings with one-day camps such as the one at COLT where the Taylor brothers cemented their path toward electrical line work. COLT will host another ExploreAg Day Oct. 15, with room for double the number of participants as the last event.
"We do a lot of these one-day experiences that focus on a specific area, and they’ve been really popular,” says Jana Mussard, ag literacy specialist with the Ohio Farm Bureau. “We’re particularly excited about the one we have coming up at COLT — the first one was such a huge success, and we’ve only seen more interest in this one. Obviously, there’s a huge need for people in that line of work, and this is a great opportunity for anyone who thinks they might be interested to come in and find out what it’s all about.”
The program at COLT includes hands-on demonstrations of some of the basics of line work: climbing utility poles, riding in the bucket of a bucket truck, building cross-arms, electrical basics — with a stress on safety. Participants will even get a look at other electric cooperative careers, such as energy advising.
“We got to talk to multiple linemen who have worked in the trade for a long time at Ag Day,” Tim Taylor told Our Ohio magazine. “It was really cool to sit and talk with them, as well as people from different departments, to see the wide variety of what’s out there.”
For information or to register for ExploreAg Day at COLT on Oct. 15, email Ohio Farm Bureau’s Jana Mussard at firstname.lastname@example.org.