Wright-Hennepin awards $27,700 in scholarships to local students

Posted on June 5, 2012

Rockford, Minn. (June 5, 2012) — Twenty local students received scholarships from WH Holding – a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association (WH). This year’s scholarships totaled $27,700, raising the amount the cooperative has awarded to $546,000 since its scholarship program began in 1988.

WH awarded the scholarships during a banquet at its headquarters in Rockford, Minn. on May 24. The scholarships are funded through donations from WH’s diversified non-electric businesses – WH Security, WH Services, HeatMyFloors.com, WH Generation and WH International Response Center – under the umbrella of the WH Holding Company. By using this funding method, WH’s education program is not financed through members’ electric rates.

“The value of a good education in today’s competitive world cannot be understated,” said Mark Vogt, WH president and CEO. “We’re pleased to help get these young men and women off to a solid start toward their educational goals.”

Tom Mach, WH Holding Company board chair, echoed those sentiments.

“You will be impressed by what you hear from these students tonight,” Mach said. “You will know that the world will be in good hands.”

WH Local Schools Scholarship

WH awards one scholarship per school district in its service area to outstanding students pursuing higher education.

The following recipients were chosen to receive a Local School Scholarship:

  • Megan Stein, Annandale High School
  • Michelle Lang, Buffalo High School
  • Catherine Funk, Dassel-Cokato High School
  • Stephanie Dixon, Delano HS
  • William Schanus, Howard Lake-Waverly High School
  • Rachel Bartelt, Maple Grove High School
  • Brooke Decker, Maple Lake High School
  • Bryan Haider, Monticello High School
  • J Hunter Reed, Orono High School
  • Matthew Kellogg, Osseo Sr. High School
  • Phoebe O’Brien, Rockford High School
  • Trevor Springer, Rogers High School
  • Carli Wojcik, St. Michael-Albertville Sr. High School
  • Zachary Sandquist, Watertown-Mayer High School
  • Christina Ruiz, Wayzata High School
  • Andrea Anderson, at-large

Edward R. Slebiska Memorial Line Worker Scholarship

Line workers make up a large percentage of WH’s work force and possess a critical skill set that is in short supply in the electric utility industry. That is why WH offers two scholarships for this trade. This scholarship is awarded in memory of Ed Slebiska who co-founded WH in 1937 and became its first CEO, holding that position until his retirement in 1977. During that time, Slebiska helped lead the cooperative in bringing reliable and accessible electricity to rural Wright County and western Hennepin County.

This year’s recipients of the Edward R. Slebiska Memorial Lineworker Scholarship are: Daniel Morris, Cokato, Minn., and Jacob Wurm, Maple Lake, Minn.

Elwyn and Hazel Knickerbocker Memorial Line Worker Scholarship

Long-time WH members Doris and Ron Horswell of Annandale, Minn., created this scholarship in 2005 to honor the memory of Doris’ parents, Elwyn and Hazel Knickerbocker, who played crucial roles in bringing electricity to rural homes and farms in Wright and Hennepin counties. Elwyn served on WH’s board of directors, representing District 1 – near Annandale, Clearwater and Maple Lake – for 53 years. At that time, he was the longest serving electric cooperative director in the nation. Hazel was a tireless champion of rural electrification, offering a clear voice of support during early efforts to organize the cooperative.

Michael Hoberg, Monticello, Minn. received the Elwyn and Hazel Knickerbocker Memorial Line Worker Scholarship.

“We are grateful to the entire Knickerbocker family for making this scholarship available to WH’s program,” WH Board Chair Chris Lantto said.

WH has gone on to hire a number of the Slebiska and Knickerbocker scholarship winners after the recipients have completed line-worker training. A number of other WH employees have been recipients of various WH scholarships over the years as well.

“It’s turned into a great feeder system of local talent,” Vogt said.

Basin Electric Scholarships

Basin Electric Power Cooperative (Basin) – one of WH’s wholesale power suppliers – headquartered in Bismarck, N.D., annually awards a scholarship to its distribution cooperative members and to an employee’s descendent. Katie Hirsch, Howard Lake, Minn., received a $1,000 scholarship from WH, courtesy of Basin.

WH is a member-owned non-profit electric utility that provides electric power to Wright County and the western part of Hennepin County. The cooperative has been a corporate citizen in this area since 1937 and currently serves more than 46,000 electric accounts. The utility started its security division in 1989 that provides local home security solutions as well as monitors alarm systems for more than 50,000 customers in 32 states and three Canadian provinces.