Scholar of the Year Banquet Held in Brookings

Scholar of the Year Banquet Held in Brookings

Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives in eastern South Dakota and western Minnesota honored some of the area’s most impressive high school seniors Saturday, April 27, during the 22nd Annual Touchstone Energy Scholar of the Year Banquet and recognition held at McCrory Gardens on the campus of South Dakota State University.

The event honored the 34 high school students who were chosen each week throughout the school year as the Touchstone Energy Scholar of the Week. It’s a program which recognizes students for academic achievement, co-curricular involvement, and community service. The students are featured in weekly segments which air on Dakota News Now television and each student receives a $250 scholarship for being chosen as the Scholar of the Week.

Kellen Kueter, a senior at Montrose High School within Southeastern Electric’s territory, was selected during the banquet as the Touchstone Energy Scholar of the Year and received a $1,000 award. Quinton Berg, a senior at Bridgewater-Emery, within Central Electric’s territory, and Trey Maaland, a senior from Clear Lake, within H-D Electric’s territory received $500 scholarship awards. The winners’ names were drawn from among those in attendance.

South Dakota State University President Dr. Barry Dunn was the keynote speaker. Dakota News Now news anchor Erik Thorstenson served as the master of ceremonies.

Touchstone Energy is a network of over 720 electric cooperatives from around the country – including the electric cooperatives in our region – who are united in the four touchstone values of integrity, accountability, innovation, and commitment to community. Touchstone Energy Cooperatives are local, active members of their communities, dedicated to building our communities, and improving our way of life. The cooperatives have sponsored the Scholar of the Week program since 2002. In that time Touchstone Energy Cooperatives have awarded over $100,000 in scholarships to over 600 students as part of the Scholar of the Week program.

DANR Announces Winners of Annual Resource Conservation Speech Contest

DANR Announces Winners of Annual Resource Conservation Speech Contest

The 63rd annual Resource Conservation Speech Contest State Finals were held at the State Capitol in Pierre on Saturday, April 6, 2024.

The contest theme was “Working Grassland, Why Should We Care?”

Winning first place and a $1,200 scholarship was Abigail Lewis. Lewis was sponsored by the Moody Conservation District and is a sophomore at Flandreau High School. She is the daughter of Paul and Jessica Lewis of Flandreau.

Winning second place and a $800 scholarship was Bobbi Eide. Eide was sponsored by the Potter County Conservation District and is a sophomore at Gettysburg High School. She is the daughter of Gerri and Shon Eide of Gettysburg.

Winning third place and a $500 scholarship was Johnathon Neuharth. Neuharth was sponsored by the Stanley County Conservation District and is the son of Levi and Crystal Neuharth of Fort Pierre.

Scholarships are provided by Touchstone Energy Cooperatives of South Dakota. The contest is co-sponsored by the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources (DANR) and the South Dakota Association of Conservation Districts.

South Dakota high school students first participated in a local contest sponsored by their conservation district. Two students from each district are eligible to participate in an area contest. From there, the top two winners from each of the designated areas advance to the state finals.

Next year’s contest theme is “Let your natural resources teach you their lessons”. For more information on how to participate, contact your local conservation district office or DANR at 605.773.3623.

East River Electric’s 60th Annual LifeScape Fundraiser a Success

East River Electric’s 60th Annual LifeScape Fundraiser a Success

East River Electric’s 60th annual fundraiser to support LifeScape was a success, raising over $38,600. LifeScape is an organization that promotes independence for over 2,500 children and adults with disabilities throughout South Dakota. The event was held as an online auction and an online raffle. Many local businesses generously donated items to the auction and cash to the LifeScape organization.

“The online auction and raffle were very successful and every year, I am amazed at how our employees step up for this very worthy cause. Commitment to Community is a cooperative value, and our employees strive to demonstrate it every day,” said East River CEO/General Manager Bob Sahr. “My thanks go out to all the East River employees who assisted with this event. We also want to extend a heartfelt thank you to all the local businesses and member cooperatives that donated items to the auction and money to LifeScape. Our fundraiser was a success because of your generosity!”

East River’s annual fundraising efforts have helped provide for the very best in medical care, therapy, education and other services for the children at LifeScape. Several local children and people from around the region are served by LifeScape.

The East River Employees Committee donated $1,000, a total matched by East River Electric at $1,000. In the 60 years since the East River fundraiser began, more than $450,200 has been raised to help LifeScape provide services to children and adults in rural South Dakota.

Julia Trygstad Receives $1,000 Basin Electric Scholarship

Julia Trygstad Receives $1,000 Basin Electric Scholarship


Julia Trygstad of Nunda is the recipient of a $1,000 scholarship from Basin Electric Power Cooperative based in Bismarck, N.D. She is the daughter of Karen and Eric Trygstad.

Basin Electric awards over 170 scholarships per year to children of member cooperative employees and children of member cooperative consumers across the region. Trygstad’s mother, Karen, works as a custodian in administrative services at East River Electric Power Cooperative in Madison, a Basin Electric member.

Julia will attend South Dakota State University in Brookings to pursue a degree in nursing. Throughout her years at Rutland High School, Julia was involved in basketball, volleyball, track, choir, band, drama, FFA, National Honor Society, student council, and more. She was also on the A Honor roll. In her spare time, she likes to get outdoors and spend time with her friends and family. “Thank you, I’m grateful for this opportunity,” said Julia. “scholarships like this one will help me to get a quality education.”

“Congratulations to Julia and her family on this wonderful honor,” said East River Electric CEO/General Manager Bob Sahr. “Julia’s commitment to academics, athletics, activities, and her community shows her dedication to achieving her goals. We wish Julia well as she continues her education at South Dakota State University.

Since the scholarship program began, over 5,000 students in the Basin Electric system have benefited from this program. Recipients are selected based on academic record, potential to succeed, leadership, and participation in school and community activities, honors, work experience, a statement of education, and career goals and an outside appraisal by a teacher or adviser.

Pictured (Left to Right) Bob Sahr, Julia Trygstad, and Karen Trygstad.

East River Electric Employees Earn MREA LIFEGuard Award

East River Electric Employees Earn MREA LIFEGuard Award

Two individuals were recognized for heroic efforts Thursday, October 20 during East River Electric Cooperative’s All Employees Focus meeting. Skyler Nieman and Logan Janssen received the Minnesota Rural Electric Association’s (MREA) LIFEGuard on Duty Award. The award program encourages co-op employees to make safety a commitment on and off the job and honors individuals who have performed lifesaving activities or prevented serious injuries.

Photo of LifeGuard on Duty Award Sign

On May 12, 2022, Skyler Niemann and Logan Janssen of East River Electric Power Cooperative were on their way to the Sisseton substation for work that day. They were northbound on Interstate 20 when they saw a collision in the southbound land about a half mile ahead. They did not see the impact but observed what appeared to be a could of smoke from the impact that couth their attention.

As they passed the scene, they looked over and could see a car pushing something on its hood. It was a motorcycle. Skyler did not know if there was a driver on the motorcycle but could tell it was a serious collision. Logan immediately called 911. Skyler turned their truck around in the first median he could find, knowing they could bring a first aid kit and AED as he had these items on his work truck.

When Skyler and Logan got to the scene, about five other people had also stopped and were helping. The injured motorcycle driver was on his side and appeared to be unconscious. One lady monitored his pulse, and when he lost it, Skyler cut off his backpack to roll him over onto his back. One lady then started CPR, and Skyler and the lady continued this first aid until paramedics arrived. They had also hooked up the AED to him but never had to initiate a shock.

“Today, we commend Skyler and Logan as LIFEGuards who took prompt action to provide care to someone injured. They knew they had life-saving equipment on their truck and had the training to provide basic first aid. They lived their commitment to safety today,” said MREA Director of Safety and Loss Control, Lidia Dilly Jacobson, and spokespersons of East River Electric Cooperative. “A job well done, Skyler and Logan.”