Winners Announced in 3rd Annual Who Powers You Contest

Winners Announced in 3rd Annual Who Powers You Contest

The third annual Who Powers You contest hosted by the region’s Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives has officially come to a close with the announcement of three winners who were chosen from among the contest’s 20 finalists. The contest spotlights outstanding individuals and organizations who are making a difference in their communities while recognizing them for their remarkable efforts in empowering and inspiring others.

“As an electric cooperative, our services extend beyond delivering safe, affordable, and reliable power to our member-owners,” said Chris Studer, Chief Member and Public Relations Officer at East River Electric Power Cooperative. The Who Powers You contest highlights the commitment of our co-op to the communities and member-owners that we serve. We know that our co-op community is filled with people making a difference and we are honored to celebrate them.”

Weekly contest finalists were featured on KELOLAND Living from March through mid-May. Three contest winners were announced on May 30, 2024.

Becky Krause, a member of H-D Electric Cooperative, has been awarded the first-place grand prize in the Who Powers You contest. Becky, who was nominated by five separate individuals, is an invaluable volunteer and member of her community.

She has been instrumental in many community projects and efforts that enrich Deuel County. She’s deeply involved with the farming industry, supporting local farmers through her banking expertise and hands-on experience and a pillar of support in her church and community, volunteering for church suppers, teaching Sunday School, and leading youth groups. She also serves on the Stewards Against Childhood Hunger committee, providing weekend backpacks for students. Her role in the Deuel County Community Foundation is significant, organizing major fundraisers and promoting scholarships for local students. She also mentors high school students, offering guidance on college, tech schools, and finances. She co-leads the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and is actively involved with her church as a Sunday school coordinator and financial secretary.

As the grand prize winner, she will receive a $3,000 award to support her continued efforts. The Who Powers You award recognizes her as a true ambassador of her community and the individuals within it.

The second-place, $1,500 prize was awarded to Pierre Area Referral Service, whose outreach impacts Oahe Electric Cooperative’s service territory. The organization has been servicing the community for 50 years and is always there to help with food, clothing, emergency/medical bus tickets, emergency hotel vouchers, eviction prevention, and many other services. One of their best programs is their weekend backpack program for kids in grades K-5 and they feed over three thousand meals each weekend during the school year. They are powering their community through their dedication and mission to support community in numerous ways.

Sandi Kramer, a member of Bon Homme-Yankton Electric Cooperative, was awarded the third-place $500 award in the contest. She has been a dedicated volunteer for the Yankton Food for Thought program for many years. She started with the program when they began the Sack Pack Program 15 years ago, which provides a sack of food for the weekend to children who are food insecure. She is involved in their once-a-month food pantry from food ordering to set-up and working the events. She also serves on the board of directors, bringing her experience and great ideas to the program. Her contributions to the region are numerous, which is why she was chosen for the well-deserved recognition.

To learn more about the Who Powers You contest and watch this year’s nominee and winner videos, visit whopowersyoucontest.com.

East River Electric Earns a Minnesota Safety Council Governor’s Workplace Safety Award

East River Electric Earns a Minnesota Safety Council Governor’s Workplace Safety Award

East River Electric was recognized for excellence in workplace safety and health during the 2024 Minnesota Safety and Health Conference on April 30 & May 1. East River Electric is one of 244 employers honored through the awards program, coordinated by the Minnesota Safety Council.

“Keeping the people we work and live with safe is a full time job,” said Paul Aasen, CEO of the Minnesota Safety Council. “Congratulations to East River Electric for investing the time and energy to make work and life safer inside their organization and beyond.”

Since 1934, the annual Governor’s Workplace Safety Awards program has honored Minnesota employers with exceptional safety performance. Applicants are judged on several years of injury data as it compares with their industry’s national and state statistics, and on their progress in implementing a comprehensive safety program. Winners are recognized at five levels:

East River received a Bronze Achievement Award, in recognition of their excellence in occupational injury prevention throughout 2023.

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.