Georgia Magazine - March 2018 - 22
'It gives kids a good
opportunity to gain
confidence in public
electrical skills and
introduces them to the
EMCs, which are certainly
interested in young people
with these skill sets.'
-Greg Proctor, president/CEO of
Metter-based Excelsior EMC
Collan Sanford, left, and Casey Ellis competed in the area EMC/FFA wiring contest
each year while attending Gilmer County
High School in Ellijay and now both work
for Amicalola EMC in Jasper.
ing the terminology, working with the National Electrical Code Book-the exposure to those things goes far
beyond the general knowledge students get elsewhere,"
Beacham says. "And for anyone interested in becoming
a lineman, the networking you get from being around
EMC personnel who help out at the contest is above and
beyond what you could get otherwise."
Sidney Bell, an ag mechanics teacher with Georgia
Agricultural Education, has coordinated the EMC/FFA
Electrification CDE for eight years and believes the contest is more relevant today than ever.
"A couple years ago, a governor's task force went
across Georgia to determine what skills students need
to compete, and people from industries put 'qualified
electricians' at the top of the list," Bell says.
He says he is grateful for the EMCs' 50-year sponsorship of the wiring contests. "It's not just the financial
support but also the EMC people who come from all
over Georgia to volunteer at the state event. The passion
they have for [helping] our students is tremendous."
Greg Proctor, president/CEO of Metter-based Excelsior EMC, is a classic example of a wiring contest participant whose experience paved the way to employment
at an electric co-op. Proctor participated in his region's
contest as a Statesboro High School student in the early
"I lived on EMC lines but didn't know a lot about it,"
Proctor recalls. "The wiring contest introduced me to the
electric cooperatives. I don't think I'd be working here
today had I not done that, really."
After high school, Proctor studied ag engineering
at the University of Georgia in Athens and worked in
the dairy industry after college. When he was ready for
a career change in 1995, then-Excelsior manager Gary
Drake, who remembered Proctor from the wiring contest, hired him as an energy services engineer. Named
president/CEO in 2016, Proctor says the wiring contest
remains a steppingstone to valuable
"Take a kid like I was, interested
in technical things, and this can open
doors," he says. "It gives kids a good
opportunity to gain confidence in
public speaking, teaches electrical skills and introduces
them to the EMCs, which are certainly interested in
young people with these skill sets."
Many who competed in wiring contests are now
employed at electric cooperatives statewide. At Snapping
Shoals EMC in Covington, former participants Travis Long
and Ryan Mathis work as linemen.
Long says his experience paid off. "I got to meet
people in the trade and talk with them," he recalls.
"It definitely helped me get a job with the electric
Collan Sanford and Casey Ellis, who competed in
the wiring contest all four years while they were students
at Gilmer County High School in Ellijay, graduated in
2012 and now work at Amicalola EMC in Jasper. Sanford
says meeting Amicalola EMC employees during the wiring competitions helped when he applied there for a job
that he believes will remain relevant for years to come.
"The wiring contest teaches a trade skill, which is
where the future is going to be, so this training is very
valuable," Sanford says.
There's no way to put a dollar amount on that value,
even though the monetary awards can have an impact.
First- and second-place finalists at regional meets win
$500 and $300 scholarships, respectively. At the state
CDE, first-, second- and third-place finishers earn $1,000,
$750 and $500 scholarships. Awards are presented at the
Georgia FFA Convention in Macon each spring.
"One of my students who participated in wiring contests for years earned almost $2,000 in scholarships, and
now he's working as an engineer in Atlanta," Beacham
says. "The investment the EMCs make in this contest, FFA
and all the students who take part is immeasurable."
Jackie Kennedy is a freelance writer living in
More online at www.georgiamagazine.org