Educators learn first-hand about energy careers

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Teacher operates the controls of an auger utility truck as a lineman watches.
Brian Hull, right, operates the controls of an OPPD auger truck. Lineman Clayton Auer gives him direction. The trucks used to dig holes for power poles and other equipment.

High school educators are among the first to help a teenager decide what career they will choose after graduation. It’s an important decision that could affect the rest of their life.

Last week, eight educators from local school districts spent a week at OPPD learning about the variety of careers available at a utility. The Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, Metropolitan Community College and Iowa Western coordinate the internships. The week immerses teachers in the work of an area employer so they learn first-hand about STEM-related careers.

Elkhorn Service Center manager Ryan Mayberry, right, explains how power cables are made
Elkhorn Service Center manager Ryan Mayberry, right, explains how power cables are made.
Covering many areas

The teachers’ week at OPPD included an education about energy delivery and alternative energy sources, a panel discussion with OPPD’s Legacy I3 interns, a hands-on demonstration of line technician work, a tour of OPPD’s North Omaha Station power plant and meeting with utility employees in energy marketing and finance departments, among other activities.

A high school teacher begins to climb a power pole as two lineman stand by to assist.
Educators even got the chance to climb a power pole wearing lineman gear.

OPPD previously hosted educators for this program in 2015, 2016 and 2017.  Covering all aspects of the utility gives the educators a broad picture of the work done at OPPD.

“They can take back knowledge and opportunities to share with their kids,” said Sheri Stanek, senior Human Capital consultant and coordinator of the tours. “It shows them that there are more than linemen working at OPPD.”

Brian Hull, a skilled trades sciences and business teacher at Millard South High School, said he plans on incorporating what he learns into a lesson plan to be used next school year.

After his tour of OPPD’s Elkhorn Service Center, Hull was most surprised by the amount of materials OPPD must have on-hand to serve its customers.

The educators were from the following high schools:

  • Atlantic (Iowa) High School
  • Omaha Northwest High School
  • Millard South High School
  • Millard Public Schools Young Adult Program
  • Omaha’s Blackburn High School

line of educators and tour hosts in front of an OPPD line truck at the utility's Omaha Service Center

Laura King-Homan

About Laura King-Homan

Laura King-Homan is the managing editor of The Wire and a communications specialist at the Omaha Public Power District. She has nearly 20 years of print journalism and design experience, including the Omaha World-Herald.

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