Learn to tell a story. One of people who pull together to build a better life. People who started out building power lines and power plants, and eventually began building the path to accessible child care, stronger leaders and cleaner energy.
“We don’t like bragging,” Gilbert says. “Co-ops have a fantastic story, we do great things for rural America and for our membership, but I don’t think people know about us.”
Gilbert sees one of his biggest roles is to help as a communicator. He sends a detailed report to Corn Belt Power’s directors, staff and managers following every Basin Electric board meeting.
“I use screens we see in our meetings, without going into anything confidential. This last meeting, for example, I spent about a page-and-a-half talking about Leland Olds Station,” Gilbert says. “People hear Leland Olds Station, and if you’re in Corn Belt you think, ‘It’s a power plant, so what?’ I did a little research on the 50 years of history, what it costs to run, and pictures of it.”
Gilbert says these reports help answer questions he gets as a Basin Electric director. ”The Leland Olds Station is fantastic, one of our workhorses for many years. We have so many rules and regulations coming at us and we just spent $45 million on ash control equipment. What’s going to happen to the place? A lot of people would say, ‘Hey, it’s 50 years old.’ But no, it’s one of our workhorses, it’s a low-cost source of power, and it’s good for our membership.”