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Commentary: Fireflies or lightning bugs?


This past weekend our kids were up way past their bedtimes running through our yard chasing insects that light up. While I believe this should be a summertime requirement for every child (and most adults), it sparked an argument between Lindsey and me. 

Are these light-producing insects that grace our yards and farms fireflies or lightning bugs? 

As it turns out, where you live likely determines what you call them. I even found a map explaining it. My wife is from Smithville, on the western side of the state, which makes her Team Fireflies. My central Missouri roots have me on the right side of the divide, where we call them lightning bugs. 

I kept digging and found out firefly is more common in the West, where wildfires are prominent. Along those lines, the lightning bug label overlaps with the region of our country that receives the most lightning strikes.

These debates remind me of our electric cooperative system. I had a co-op board member tell me, "If you have seen one co-op, you've seen one co-op." What does that mean? Well, it goes along with one of the seven cooperative principles — autonomy and independence. These big and fancy words really just mean cooperative member-owners (each of you) drive the success and future of your local cooperative. 

What makes this successful is each of our electric cooperatives do things a little different because each cooperative service area is different. 

Whether it's ensuring your electricity stays affordable and reliable, supporting economic growth, helping our youth become leaders or promoting broadband, your electric cooperative is trying to help its local community in the most impactful way possible. Your electric cooperative can do this because the leadership, employees and board of directors live and work in the same communities they serve. They know the local needs, and the decisions they make affect their family, friends and neighbors. 

Wherever you live, whatever you call it, your electric cooperative is focused on one thing: improving lives in rural Missouri. Now if we could just get those little bugs to generate electricity. 


Caleb Jones is the executive vice president and CEO of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives and a member of Boone Electric Cooperative.