Ervin Fink was presented with East River Electric Power Cooperative’s highest honor, the Eminent Service Award, during the organization’s 73rd annual meeting Sept. 6, 2023, in Sioux Falls. The award is given annually to individuals who have made significant contributions to East River and the cooperative movement.

As a member-owner of Douglas Electric Cooperative, Fink served for 36 years on the Douglas Electric board of directors – and for 22 of those years he served as the representative for Douglas Electric on the East River board of directors. At the time he stepped down from the boards last year, he had been serving as the Douglas Electric board president and East River’s board secretary.

Ervin epitomizes the seventh cooperative principle of concern for community in his professional and personal life. And, throughout his years of service on both boards, he was an invaluable leader in directing many projects and policies that were crucial for the continued success of rural electric cooperatives including the implementation of East River’s Transmission System Upgrade Plan, being an advocate for farm safety campaigns and cooperative youth outreach programs, and approval of funding supporting economic development and advancing local organizations.

He served as a strong champion for public policies that benefit and impact utilities. His thoughtful engagement during electric cooperative visits to Pierre, Washington, D.C., and legislative fly-ins through the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association paired with the close ties he maintained with legislators from his local community demonstrates his devotion to advancing the cooperative mission.

“The East River Electric board of directors thanks you for your service to the cooperative and your leadership in advancing rural electrification in our region,” said East River Board President Jim Ryken. “The leadership you have provided on the board of directors has helped to ensure consumers across the region have received safe, reliable, and affordable electric power for decades.”

Outside of the cooperative realm, he served in the National Guard for six years and is involved in his local church. Ervin is a graduate of Armour High School and owns a farming operation near Armour. Ervin and his wife Dee have two children.