Corey Johnson, Supervisor of Meter Operations, leads a Youth Energy Academy virtual session from the seventh floor of Reliable Plaza.  

Seven OUC employees sought to inspire young African American students to consider career opportunities in the energy industry as the Youth Energy Academy (YEA), on July 23, 2021, wrapped up its second annual summer program as a virtual event.

A statewide activity sponsored by the Florida Chapter of the American Association of Blacks (AABE) in Energy, the YEA featured two days of educational sessions. OUC, Duke Energy and Siemens Energy were cosponsors of the local engagement with middle and high school students in Orlando. OUC has supported the program for seven consecutive years.

YEA was designed to be a hands-on experience, with students participating in demonstrations at the cosponsors’ training facilities, but was changed to virtual in 2020 because of the pandemic.

From the seventh floor of Reliable Plaza, Corey Johnson, Supervisor of Meter Operations, led OUC’s presenters, who were situated in front of laptops in three other rooms on the floor. Their sessions were streamed over the Zoom teleconferencing platform, with logged in students engaging in Q&A’s about what they learned and some winning gift cards for answering certain questions correctly.

Other members of OUC’s Youth Energy Academy team include, clockwise from top: Joe Shirley, Engineering Technician; Jason Drayton, Sr. Safety Coordinator; Alandus Sims, Community Partnership & Projects Manager, and Kaevon McCray, Administrative Assistant III; Benita Williams (foreground), Administrative Assistant III, and Queen Massaline, Interim Supervisor of Community Engagement

Moderated by Queen Massaline, Interim Supervisor of Community Engagement, and Johnson, OUC hosted the following 15-minute virtual sessions:

  • “Electric Education & Safety,” presented by Johnson.
  • “A Day in the Life of a Lineman,” presented by Joe Shirley, Engineering Technician, and Jason Drayton, Sr. Safety Coordinator. (After attending a YEA program as a youth counselor some years ago, Shirley joined OUC as a line technician III.)
  • “Water Education,” presented by Benita Williams, Administrative Assistant III.
  • “The Future of OUC,” presented by Kaevon McCray, Administrative Assistant III, and Alandus Sims, Community Partnership & Projects Manager.

“The overall purpose” of the sessions, said Massaline, “is to really give these kids . . . exposure to some of the various careers we have and hopefully inspire them to take STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] courses.”

Added Johnson: “The Youth Energy Academy helps create a better career path for these young people.”

Johnson and Massaline serve as OUC’s AABE committee chair and co-chair, respectively.