Gene's Note: An Investment in the Future
If you read my blog regularly you saw that last month I wrote about some young people I had met recently and I shared how we are in good hands. My attention is once again brought to the youth that will help create our future. As our children head back to school, it is a special time for us here at Rogue Credit Union as well. It is special because since 1993 we have been going back to our local high schools each year with our students at Rogue Credit Union student branches.
In 1993, Rogue Credit Union helped a student with his senior project start the first student branch at South Medford High School. That branch was followed by our second student branch at Ashland High School in 1995. That is where we were first introduced to Jerry Hauck, a coach and administrator at Ashland High School. Jerry was the staff liaison for the students and his work there led to him joining the credit union’s Board of Directors where he currently serves as your Board Chair. Jerry became Chair at the beginning of the financial crisis and has provided steady leadership to help Rogue to become the credit union it is today.
Today, Rogue Credit Union has six high school student branches and one college campus branch. With the addition of Eagle Point High School, North Medford High School, Brooking-Harbor High School, and most recently Grants Pass High School, Rogue now provides 24 high school students with an opportunity to have a great part-time job. Students work at their high school’s Student Branch during lunch hours as well as at their main branch after school or over school breaks. Through their work at the credit union, they learn valuable skills such as service skills, planning, confidentiality, security, marketing, and community relations.
The reason I am reminded of our student branches at this time of the year is that I am getting all of the invitations to their campus grand opening celebrations. Our students have been planning for weeks on how to open their branch for the school year and will be celebrating with other students at events with themes based on school spirit, dancing through the decades, and game focused activities. The students build events that engage students, faculty, staff, and Rogue staff and officials. It is just a fun time where the incredible energy and a spirit of possibility are on full display.
In addition to our high school branches, we opened our first campus branch at Southern Oregon University in the fall of 2015. This has been an incredible partnership with the leadership, faculty, and students of SOU. Located in the lobby of the Stevenson Union, our branch utilizes some of the latest technology to test acceptance of new transaction methods. I am most excited that in our first year, three of our six campus branch employees were former Rogue high school branch students. Our SOU Branch Team are given opportunities to research and develop new products, designed for college students. Most recently, we launched the Student Silver Credit Card – developed and implemented by one of our SOU team members. She saw a need for a unique product that not only fills a need for college students, but also provides financial education to help students learn to build a strong credit foundation for the future.
I continue to be amazed by the quality of our current students and the success of former students. From students that are part of SOU’s Honors College to former students that now are managing partners of large accounting firms, landing a fighter jet on an aircraft carrier, or recently minted doctors, our investment in this program is helping us to be part of building a better community. In addition, the investment in the student branch program has a direct benefit to Rogue Credit Union. Multiple former high school student branch employees now serve in key leadership roles at Rogue. The manager of our largest branch, the manager of our Employee Development Department, the manager of Consumer Lending, along with team members filling multiple other important roles at the credit union all came through our high school student branch program.
It is exciting to know that programs like these, where we invest in the development of our staff, have resulted in Rogue recently being recognized as the 11th best Credit Union to work for in the country (just a reminder, there are nearly 6,000 credit unions today). I am proud that your ongoing support of Rogue Credit Union and our team allows your credit union to be more than a checking account or an auto loan. It allows us to be part of something bigger…a part of the fabric of our community. Your support allows us to make an investment in the future that will benefit all of us and the communities that we live in today and in the future!