Mike Barns

Who are you?
My name is Mike Barns. I am Art Director for Southwestern Electric Cooperative in Greenville, Illinois. I reside with my wife, Michelle, and our 17-year-old daughter, Hannah, in Altamont, Illinois.

How long have you worked with cooperatives?
I’ve been at Southwestern — the only cooperative I’ve worked for — a little over 15 years.

Describe your role.
My main responsibility is design and layout of our member magazine The Southwestern from concept to the finished magazine. I share photography duties with our VP of Communications and editor of The Southwestern, Joe Richardson. Joe and I are a two-man team, so we are fortunate to produce a wide variety of communication projects for the cooperative.

What do you enjoy about working with cooperatives?
I like that what we do here is done to improve the lives of our members. We are working for them and aren’t accountable to a large publicly traded organization.

When did you join CCA? Why?
I think I joined in 2005. Joe was on the CCA board when I was hired at Southwestern and spoke very highly of CCA, urging me to join. I have been a member ever since.

Did anything surprise you about CCA?
I was surprised that it is made up of an incredible body of members from many different and diverse cooperative backgrounds. And, this group of people is involved to help, learn from, and teach each other.

What are your hobbies and interests?
When I’m off work, I spend a lot of time outside. I enjoy fishing, hunting, hiking, Jeeping, travel, and spending time with family. We follow our daughter to all of her sporting events. She plays volleyball, is on the cheer and dance teams, and runs track. I also enjoy volunteering for a few organizations.

Do you have a “bucket list”? What are some of the things on that list?
I do have a bucket list. Travel is probably my biggest item. I’m working on seeing every state — I have eight left to visit — and every national park — I’ve only been to about 20 so far). When we take a family vacation, we always visit at least one national park and do a lot of hiking when there. My daughter looks for the most dangerous and difficult hikes she can find. We hiked up to Angel’s landing in Zion National Park in 2018. There’s so much to see in this great country, let alone the world, and so little time to do it.

Give us something about yourself that is surprising or that most people don’t know.
My wife, daughter and I started a not-for-profit (501c3) in 2017. We lost our son, Hunter, in a car accident in 2016, and afterwards decided to start The Hunter Barns Memorial to help keep his memory alive. Each year, we award scholarships to graduating seniors from Altamont Community High School. Our mission is to remember Hunter and bless others in his memory. This year we will be awarding five $500 scholarships. Our main fundraiser is a Jeep run we do every summer.

Email Mike at mike.barns@sweci.com.

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