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Lidia Dilley Jacobson retires from the Minnesota Rural Electric Association (MREA) on December 30, 2022. Amid the retirement celebrations, she was recognized by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) for her dedication and commitment to the safety of rural electric cooperative employees across Minnesota.

Bud Branham, director of safety programs, NRECA, recognized Dilley Jacobson for her commitment to NRECA’s national safety program, RESAP (Rural Electric Safety Achievement Program) on Dec. 1 at the annual Safety and Loss Control Conference in St. Cloud, Minn. This annual training draws MREA cooperative members from throughout the state to learn about best practices in the workplace and the energy industry.

“Lidia has been a valuable supporter of RESAP not only in Minnesota where she manages the program with great effectiveness, but also on a national level, where she has been a valuable contributor,” Branham explained. “She has also assisted with the ‘Commitment to Zero’ initiative and ‘Speak Up Listen Up’ program. Lidia is a thought leader in safety and is highly respected by the statewide safety directors around the country.”

Dilley Jacobson joined MREA on September 3, 2013 as the director of safety and loss control. In her tenure, she elevated the safety program at MREA to the benefit of the 3,000 employees working for electric cooperatives throughout the state.

“Lidia took on the challenge of jumping in and revitalizing our MREA safety program. She acted quickly and has spent each day since acting with urgency to safeguard the lives of others,” MREA CEO Darrick Moe explains. “Lidia emphasizes every visit to a cooperative is an opportunity to provide numerous services to enhancing safety.”

Throughout her nine years of service, Lidia worked tirelessly to listen to and learn about each of MREA’s members and build MREA’s safety program offerings to better serve the cooperative community. She led RESAP program within Minnesota, implementing innovative ideas to better the program not only in Minnesota, but in states beyond. She has authored many safety articles, including for national publications such as Incident Prevention Magazine.

Lidia implemented MREA’s LIFEguard award program, which recognizes rural electric cooperative employees across the state who go above and beyond the expectations of keeping individuals safe. Since the program’sinception in 2021, there have been 28 LIFEguards awarded at 14 Minnesota rural electric cooperatives.

At the Safety and Loss Control Conference, it was announced that the LIFEguard award would from now on be known as the Lidia Dilley Jacobson LIFEguard Award.

“Lidia worked at a pool as a LIFEguard in her early years. She learned first-hand how to be on the lookout for the safety of others. Speaking up, listening up, and acting to guard against hazards and protect those around her,” Moe announced at the conference. “She created the LIFEguard award, and it is an honor to recognize her at this time with the first ‘Lidia Dilley Jacobson’ LIFEguard award. Thank you for a career of service to us, and we wish you all the best in your future.”

As her retirement draws near, Lidia recalls with fondness some of the memories she has gained over the years.

“My favorite memories at MREA come in small moments when I would be at a co-op, hear a comment about safety and know that ‘they got it.’ Or they would tell you something that had happened and we could talk through it together,” she recalls. “One particular statement was when an employee said they were setting up a ladder at home and the thought popped into his head, ‘What would Lidia do?’ We both had a good chuckle with that one. Truly for me, the best part of my job was when I was onsite at the co-ops and to see their safety journey at work.”

Dilley Jacobson looks forward to being home in retirement before diving into her passions of being outdoors and spending time with family.

“Since I traveled weekly for my job, I will enjoy being at home for a while before I enjoy the typical things people do when they retire – travel, spend more time with the grandkids, hike and bike, etcetera,” she says. “I do have plans to do some hiking in Montana when the weather is warmer for as John Muir said, ‘the mountains are calling, and I must go.’”