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Duke Energy, 4-H Team Up To Teach About Electricity, Leadership

Since the Great Depression, Duke Energy and 4-H have collaborated on electric education programs

Duke Energy, 4-H Team Up To Teach About Electricity, Leadership

Since the Great Depression, Duke Energy and 4-H have collaborated on electric education programs

Published 09-30-22

Submitted by Duke Energy

An old photo, a representative from Duke Power giving a presentation to a group of children about motor uses on the farm
This photo from the October 1964 Duke Power News shows company agricultural representative Jim Tyson explaining the function of electric motors to boys at the 4H camp: "Jim proved to the kids in a hurry that electric power beats muscle power."

By Dennis Lockard

To many people, 4-H brings to mind farms and agriculture.

Today’s 4-H is just as likely to be involved with renewable energy, science, engineering and technology programs. Duke Energy’s commitment to 4-H goes back to the Great Depression in the 1930s. The company has been a sponsor of the 4-H Electric Program since 1935. In those days, Duke Power (a predecessor company) was mostly involved in educating rural youth on the potential of electricity on farms across the Carolinas.

Robin Nicholson in a TV interview, holding 4H materials
Duke Energy District Manager Robin Nicholson appeared on WBTV in the mid-1970s to discuss 4-H and her projects. “What I am holding in this picture is one of the record books where 4-Hers recorded the work they had done. I have on my 4-H uniform and a variety of pins and medals I won.”

As times changed, so has the program’s focus.

4-H (Heads, Hands, Heart and Health) was on display in July at the 75th N.C. Electric Congress in Charlotte. The Electric Congress, which Duke Energy sponsored along with other organizations, is designed to recognize excellence in the Electric Program throughout the state. 4-H members participate in workshops, meet utility company representatives, learn about careers in the energy industry, and interact with other representatives.

Alvin Etheredge showing a cow and grand junior champion ribbon
Alvin Etheredge and "My prize dairy cow, “Miss Petunia”!" She was the grand junior champion at the Greenwood, S.C., fair, he said. The photo is from about 1978 to 1980.

“At the career fair, attendees were able to explore everything from wind technology and jobs in hydro to line work or just how to get started at a university or community college,” said Robin Nicholson, government and community relations manager.

Duke Energy Foundation supports the Electric Congress in North Carolina, in addition to 4-H programs in other regions. The Foundation has invested more than $1.2 million in 4-H opportunities over the years.

“N.C. Electric Congress is part of the state’s workforce pipeline into the energy sector,” said Amy Strecker, vice president of the Duke Energy Foundation and director of Foundation strategy. “The engaging, hands-on content exposes students to new career options and demonstrates how interesting, challenging and rewarding a career in energy can be.”

Many Duke Energy teammates have been involved with 4-H over the years, and the experiences have influenced their lives and careers.

Adults and children in a field of corn, looking at the ears in pairs.
Duke Energy Account Executive Wayne Huddleston said the fellow on the right is Ag Engineer John Napier. “I believe this is off of Rozzells Ferry Road around the Lakewood Substation in Charlotte. Duke Energy and Mecklenburg Extension were doing community gardens under the transmission rights-of-way.”

Alvin Etheredge, an account executive for the company in Durham, N.C., said he participated in the 4-H Electric Program while growing up on a dairy farm in South Carolina. “This sparked a lifetime interest in electricity, and I began experimenting and building projects in our garage,” he said. “My dad coined me Dr. Short Circuit, as my projects would routinely trip the circuit breaker and plunge our house into abrupt darkness."

“Through 4-H, I formed many lasting relationships with friends, colleagues and mentors, who have guided me throughout my life and career.”

Robin Nicholson learned communications and leadership skills through 4-H.

Today, she is a government and community relations manager based in Hickory, N.C. “I’ve continued to work in roles that required expert communication, conversational and presentation skills, and 40 years later, I am still honing those skills I began learning as a 10-year-old 4-H’er.”

What is 4-H?

4‑H is a youth development organization serving nearly 6 million young people across the country. Participants work on hands-on projects in health, science, agriculture and civic engagement and are encouraged to take on leadership roles.

View original content here.

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Duke Energy

Duke Energy

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is one of America’s largest energy holding companies. Its electric utilities serve 8.2 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, and collectively own 50,000 megawatts of energy capacity. Its natural gas unit serves 1.6 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The company employs 27,600 people.

Duke Energy is executing an ambitious clean energy transition to achieve its goals of net-zero methane emissions from its natural gas business by 2030 and net-zero carbon emissions from electricity generation by 2050. The company has interim carbon emission targets of at least 50% reduction from electric generation by 2030, 50% for Scope 2 and certain Scope 3 upstream and downstream emissions by 2035, and 80% from electric generation by 2040. In addition, the company is investing in major electric grid enhancements and energy storage, and exploring zero-emission power generation technologies such as hydrogen and advanced nuclear.

Duke Energy was named to Fortune’s 2023 “World’s Most Admired Companies” list and Forbes’ “World’s Best Employers” list. More information is available at The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases, fact sheets, photos and videos. Duke Energy’s illumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues. Follow Duke Energy on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.

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