Some of the first headlines read:
- Chopped Hay Dryer Saves Labor
- Single Phase Motor Powers Silage Blower
- Find a Pen Pal Through Kansas Electric Farmer
- Top Honors For 4-H’ers in Electric Awards
- Who Owns Kansas’ Third Largest
- Electric System?
- New Technique for Angel Food Cake
(special instructions included for using an electric mixer)
The year was 1952. The month was August. Those were a few of the articles published in the first edition of the Kansas Electric Farmer, the precursor to Kansas Country Living (KCL) magazine. Since January, we’ve been celebrating Kansas Electric Cooperative, Inc.’s 80th anniversary, which officially takes place on Aug. 18 this year. This electric cooperative publication itself will celebrate 70 years in 2022, and I thought it would be a good distraction to take a quick trip down memory lane to see how far we’ve come while never straying from our mission.
In its inaugural editorial, the editor wrote:
“Kansas Electric Farmer is not intended to take the place of existing publications or supplant the well-established services of extension specialists, county agents, and electrification advisers. Rather it hopes to bring you money-saving, income-producing ideas — ideas that enhance the value of the membership you hold in your electric cooperative.”
I believe the publication, as well as KEC (its publisher), has not only maintained that mission but expanded it to meet the modern needs of our electric co-op consumer-members.
I had the honor of testifying Feb. 11 at the Kansas House Committee on Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications to share KEC’s mission with the committee. I explained the foundation of the cooperative business model — member control — and how electric co-ops’ self-governance has served their consumer-members and rural communities throughout the decades.
Electric cooperative consumer-members have always had a voice in cooperative governance. This takes many forms including electing your board members, completing member satisfaction surveys, participating at co-op meetings, and probably most popular — talking with board members and co-op leadership in your communities, whether at the grocery store, gas station or school sporting event.
Following my testimony, Energy Chair Joe Seiwert (R-Pretty Prairie) presented KEC with a House Tribute “in recognition for the electric co-ops’ commitment to power homes, businesses, and dreams.” It was an honor to represent the electric co-ops and the consumer-members they serve.
Recurring headlines now promote the need for high-speed internet in our rural communities, engaging with your electric co-op, which now produces its own local pages in this magazine to keep you informed, and energy-saving ideas for your home and comfort. And, of course, recipes introducing new ingredients and techniques.
Lee Tafanelli is Chief Executive Officer of Kansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. in Topeka.