A study on member education and communications programs in rural electric cooperatives
Haigh, Michael M.
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American agriculture has changed dramatically during the 20th century. Many rural electric cooperatives (RECs), which have provided a community framework for farming families for more than seventy-five years, are finding it necessary to consolidate into larger entities. The loss of community that often results is only the beginning of changes experienced by REC members. One way to prevent the loss of closeness with members is by having effective communications and education programs in place. Member education and communications are becoming more important in changing times. The impact of successful education and communications programs is often overlooked when cutting budgets to lower costs. These programs will play key roles in keeping the cooperative spirit alive in the next century. The foundation of cooperatives lies in its membership and their understanding of the cooperative principles. This research profiles the cooperative form of business, the history of rural electric cooperatives, the movement of deregulation, the merger process and cooperative options, and the impact of member education and conmaunications programs can have on cooperatives' success. The limited research in this field was expanded by this study. There were 103 rural electric cooperatives surveyed for information. Ninety-four responded (90.9%) to give information about the changing industry, the impact communications and education plays in keeping member owners informed, and what forms of communications and education are used most often in the changing environment.