Corey Johnson, Supervisor of Meter Operations, hosts a YEA session titled “Electric Conservation.”

Normally, the annual Youth Energy Academy (YEA) summer program would be a hands-on, interactive “career exploration” for African-American students who may be interested in careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. But, as everyone knows, there is nothing normal in the era of the coronavirus.

So, on July 23 and 24, cosponsors OUC, Duke and Siemens, using Zoom’s video-conference platform, hosted virtual YEA learning sessions with as many as 40 participants with various local youth groups. The remote event featured session hosts presenting introductions to all manner of opportunities in the energy industry, from the well-known (e.g., line techs) to the little known (e.g., conservation specialists). OUC hosted four sessions on the second day of the conference – “Day in the Life of a Line Tech,” hosted by Jason Drayton, Senior Safety Coordinator; “Electric Conservation,” hosted by Corey Johnson, Supervisor of Meter Operations; “Emerging Students Program,” hosted by Queen Massaline, Senior Community Engagement Coordinator; and “Water Conservation,” hosted by Benita Williams, Administrative Assistant III.

This is the sixth year OUC has supported the YEA, a statewide activity sponsored by the Florida Chapter of the American Association of Blacks in Energy. Johnson and Massaline serve as OUC’s AABE committee chair and co-chair, respectively.

“We really thought we would have to cancel the program this year because the conference is all about being a hands-on learning experience,” said Massaline. “But we decided to try to do it virtually, and while it didn’t go off without a hitch we were successful in engaging the kids. The experience certainly gave me a greater appreciation of the challenges our schoolteachers face with distance learning.”