Category Archives: Uncategorized

School’s out for summer

The school year is coming to an end for this lady. And WOW! The last two months were crazy busy! The Story Behind the Switch presentation was brought to thousands of students in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Montana…I’m a bit tired but the trips were worth it.

And thanks to the very creative Mr. Thams’ class at Sioux Central Community School in Iowa – I have some great photos and a unique video shot at the top of a wind turbine. I am grateful for the warm hospitality shown by the rural electric cooperatives and their area schools these last few weeks of the school year. It makes my job fantastic! Just watch the video below to see the clever Mr. Thams’ class and the great way they say thank you…


Bismarck sixth graders brave the shave

I love seeing kids helping other kids and I got to witness that today at the North Dakota St. Baldrick’s event.

Two students from Mrs. McKay’s sixth grade class at Highland Acres Elementary School in Bismarck decided to “brave the shave.” Matt Masse and Brett Ovind both say they want to help kids with cancer. So they raised more than $300 for childhood cancer research by volunteering to shave their heads. And their entire sixth grade class supported them. The class walked over to the YMCA where the event was held. They made signs and cheered on the two boys.

Watch the video below to see Matt and Brett “brave the shave”:

How St. Baldrick’s Day started in North Dakota

Emily McKay is a creative soul.
And she also used to do my job (demonstration coordinator) at Basin Electric.
Five years ago–Emily was traveling the Midwest teaching students about electricity. While listening to the radio in the company vehicle during her long roadtrips, she first heard about St. Baldrick’s. She thought “I would shave my head to raise money for childhood cancer research.” She brought the idea to her husband, Ted Cash (who also works at Basin Electric) and he felt the same way. Then they told others at Basin Electric and the event started there.
Now, five years later, the event has grown to be called “North Dakota St. Baldrick’s.” Check out the video below to hear Emily’s story…who by the way is now the director of the Great Plains Energy Corridor at Bismarck State College. Way to go, Emily!

A busy fall

downtown Omaha

I am in Omaha and taking a few moments to reflect on the last month and a half…so much is going on!

First of all–September was the beginning of the school year. And I now understand why they call Montana ‘Big Sky Country.’ I spent the first two weeks of the month in Shelby and Great Falls. Working with Marias River Electric and Sun River Electric was fantastic. I am so fortunate to work with such warm people. The end of month was Norsk Hostfest time and I still didn’t try the lutefisk. My job at the largest Scandinavian festival in North America was to greet people at the Touchstone Energy booth and tell them more about what the Touchstone Energy brand is all about…integrity, accountability, innovation and commitment to community!

Now it’s October and I’ve already been in Sioux Falls to work with Sioux Valley Energy. This week I’m in Iowa working with Harrison County REC. There’s just no stopping now…I really like to drink coffee.

My favorite experiences so far this fall include working with the Hutterites in Montana and South Dakota. And visiting my first Cherry Berry store in Sioux Falls. There are like ten different frozen yogurt choices with any topping you want!!! Yum!

Is that a hot air balloon?

The Dry Fork Station in Gillette, Wyoming is one of the newest, cleanest coal-based power plant in the country right now…and Basin Electric is proud of it.

The dedication ceremony for the power plant was attended by over a thousand people. Not only did people get to see the new plant, they also had a chance to see the Touchstone Energy hot air balloon. It was beautiful! No, I didn’t get a balloon ride this time. But it was nice to see that colorful logo in the sky that day.

Before the dedication took place–a few flights took place. Here are some pictures of volunteers getting the balloon ready for take off…and THANK YOU to those Dry Fork Station employees who volunteered their time to help get the balloon off the ground!

It needs more hot air!!

Hold on, Rhonda!

Beautiful!! Ready for lift off!!

Colorful Colorado

Beautiful…colorful…breathtaking…just some of the many adjectives used by most to describe Colorado. I really enjoy my job when it takes me to Colorado for a summer camp presentation. Who wouldn’t enjoy that?

I traveled to Clark, Colorado for the Colorado Electric Education Institute’s Cooperative Youth Leadership Camp. High school students from around Wyoming, Kansas, and Colorado spend a week in the beautiful Rocky Mountains to learn more about electricity, cooperatives, doing business, working in government, etc. Campers get informed  and have  fun adventures at the same time. To top it all off, they are treated with a presentation of The Story Behind the Switch! Move over Einstein…

If you ever get the opportunity, take a drive through Rocky Mountain National Park! This next video will give you a glimpse of how beautiful it is. (You will see towards the end that I was trying to get some video of a bull moose. You may have to strain your eyes.)

After driving through the park, I decided to make a quick stop in Estes Park, Colorado. I was in need of good food and a good ghost tour. I got both at the Stanley Hotel. In this next video, check out the door to room 217–where Stephen King stayed and got the idea to write “The Shining.” You will also hear about how actor Jim Carrey did NOT want to stay in that room while he was at the hotel filming “Dumb and Dumber.”

It was a great trip!!

The Littlest User

It sounds similar to “The Biggest Loser” on NBC…but there’s a lot less energy involved.

The Littlest User Contest is a clever competition between Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association (WH) and Lake Region Electric Cooperative (LREC) in Minnesota. Each cooperative has six family teams (of course they’re member-consumers) competing to use the least amount of electricity this summer.  WH’s six family teams are collectively referred to as the “Watt Watchers,” which are competing against the LREC “MiniMizers.”

Each family team can track their energy-saving progress by visiting MyMeter through their cooperatives’ websites. MyMeter is a web portal offered by the co-ops, which helps consumers track their daily energy use.

“The program (MyMeter) empowers members to save money on their electric bills… and it’s ultimately helping members better understand their energy use,” said Todd Jude, energy use consultant for WH.

Steve Walstad’s family (Energy Wise Guys) is one of the WH teams competing in this year’s contest. The Walstad family managed to cut $60 off last month’s electric bill as a result of the contest, and to help keep their energy use low, they have not turned on the air conditioner yet this summer.

“We’re competitive. We want to win,” Walstad says.

You can read comments online at about how the contest is shaping up. One of the Watt Watcher’s team members posted, “I’m more and more amazed at how small and simple changes really DO make a difference!”

“Some of the families are using the contest to teach their kids how to save energy and money, as well as the importance of conservation,” said Lindsay Scherer, communications specialist for WH. “It’s been fun to watch the Watt Watcher’s progress and to see how excited each family is about saving energy.”

The Littlest User will be declared after July 31st and will receive a one-month supply of free electricity.