Guarding Your Identity

Identity theft can occur to anyone, from an infant to an individual who has passed. Each day thieves look for opportunities to use the identity of others for their own needs. That’s why Pioneer Electric is committed to combating scammers as best as we can. However, catching a scammer is easier said than done. It takes teamwork between the cooperative and members to ensure that no one falls for their tricks.

A common scam is targeting cooperative members and demanding payment through a credit card or money transfer. The scammer calls the member, threatens to shut off their electricity due to late payment and then demands payment in a specific method. These types of calls can occur throughout the day and even outside of Pioneer business hours. If you ever receive a strange call, don’t be afraid to report it to your local police and to Pioneer Electric. By having an idea of who the scammers are targeting, what they are demanding and how they are asking for it helps us ensure that we properly alert other members.

Additionally, a thief may try to compromise your identity. NEVER disclose any type of personal information unless you’ve initiated the call with a reputable number. Even innocent sounding questions can allow a scammer to gain enough information to cause serious damage. A thief may take money from your account, make purchases with your credit/debit card, take out a loan or open accounts under your name, usually without your knowledge. Once the theft occurs, it is a long, difficult and potentially expensive road to recovery.

Your safety and security are important to Pioneer Electric. We work hard to ensure that our members are educated of all scam attempts reported by our members. However, it comes down to you to safeguard your information. By taking an extra effort to be cautious you can help ensure that your identity remains safe. Here are some helpful tips to keep your information out of the hands of others:

  • Report lost, stolen or compromised credit or debit cards to the issuers immediately.
  • Only use payment options outlined by utilities or companies that you hold service with.
  • If you are unsure of the legitimacy of a call, hang up and look for a direct contact number of the utility or service provider.
  • Don’t give out personal information (such as credit card numbers, addresses, account numbers, social security information or banking information) over the phone, unless you have initiated the phone call to a trusted company.
  • Be skeptical of “special promotions” or “deals” offered by callers. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Monitor the amount of money in your savings and checking accounts. Many banks have access to mobile banking, text alerts and other tools to help keep a watch on your money.
  • If you ever have questions regarding the well-being of your Pioneer Electric membership, don’t hesitate to reach out and contact Pioneer Electric.

Youth Leadership Camp 2017

Joining their peers from Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Wyoming, high school students Paige Claassen (Rolla) Meleny Jacome (Stanton County) developed leadership skills at the 41st annual Cooperative Leadership Camp in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, from July 14-20. Approximately 100 youth learned about the cooperative principles at the week-long educational retreat.

Claassen and Jacome began their adventure meeting campers as they rode across the plains. When the bus arrived in Denver, Colorado, they were treated to a snorkeling experience at the Denver Aquarium where campers swam face-to-face with a school of cownose rays, moray eels, nurse sharks and 400 other exotic underwater species.

The group then arrived at Glen Eden Resort and immediately began forming friendships through various activities. Several demonstrations and presentations introduced students to the cooperative model and the reach of cooperatives throughout their communities. Campers competed to build a model transmission line out of craft supplies, formed their own candy cooperative, held daily membership meetings, toured Trapper Mine and Craig Power Plant, checked out a solar array and experienced a high-voltage safety demonstration. The campers also raised $390 to donate to the NRECA International Foundation.

Delegates toured the Trapper Coal Mine in Colorado during the 2017 Youth Leadership Camp.

“It was amazing to see how everyone was willing to step-up and lead,” said Claassen. “Nobody was afraid of leaving their comfort zone and by the end of the trip it was cool to see how close and supportive everyone became.”

“The leadership activities were amazing!” said Jacome. “This whole experience has helped build my confidence and allowed me to meet some awesome people.”

The week-long experience also gave participants an authentic camp feel with river rafting, a volleyball tournament, swimming, a dance and a talent show. In between activities, campers had the opportunity to hangout and meet one another.

“The helpers and fellow campers inspired me to want to become a better leader,” said Jacome. “Every story and lesson I learned I will take with me forever.”

By the camp’s end, students demonstrated the leadership skills they attained by running for an ambassador position at next year’s camp. Claassen along with three other campers will return as ambassadors for the 2018 Cooperative Youth Leadership Camp. As an ambassador, Paige will return to camp as junior counselors and facilitate camp leadership activities, while serving as a role model for incoming campers.

Preparations for next year’s Youth Leadership Camp are well underway. Pioneer Electric will open up applications for the 2018 Youth Tour this fall. Sophomores and juniors who attend Elkhart, Hugoton, Lakin, Moscow, Rolla, Stanton County, Syracuse and Ulysses high schools are encouraged to apply.

“Youth Tour is a great opportunity for our students,” said Pioneer Electric Communications Specialist Drew Waechter. With the ongoing support of our members, we hope to continue this opportunity in the years to come.”

Youth Tour 2017

CARSON MILBURN and VANESSA REZA were selected by Pioneer Electric to attend the 57th annual Electric Cooperative Youth Tour in Washington, D.C. From June 8 to 15, Milburn and Reza joined more than 1,800 high school students nationwide to experience our nation’s capital, government and history.

Their journey began with a quick orientation and a night tour of the Kansas State Capitol. A late night made way to an early morning as any trace of tiredness was removed after bucket truck rides and a hearty breakfast with the staff  of FreeState Electric Cooperative in Topeka. From there, they followed the yellow brick road out toward Washington, D.C.

Arriving in D.C., the pace of the trip only increased as each day brought new sights, sounds and stories to share. Delegates viewed various monuments, stood in silence at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, met the waxy doppelgangers of Madame Tussauds, danced with the “grandson” of George Washington at Mount Vernon and paid respects at Arlington National Cemetery. New to this year’s trip was a guided tour of the White House.

Delegates wave flags during Flag Day outside the White House.

 

“The students were thrilled to be able to take the self-guided tour of this beautiful historical site,” Shana Read, director of communications for Kansas Electric Cooperatives
and youth tour director, said. “As the tour was also on Flag Day, each student was given a flag while on the tour, fostering a strong sense of patriotism.”
Scattered between each adventure were brief moments for delegates to sit back and explore at their own pace. Milburn, Reza and their new friends paddled boats in the Baltimore Harbor, cheered at a professional baseball game, tried out sushi and purchased souvenirs.

A visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial had students searching for names from the past.

“I made so many great friends on this trip and met a lot of people who were just like me,” said Milburn. “It was cool to experience that. It just goes to show that no matter where you are, you can be yourself.”

Along with their own delegation, students had the opportunity to meet with others from across the U.S. in various workshops and activities. Together, the record-breaking 1,800 students spent a day listening to speakers who encouraged them not to be afraid to stand up for change.

“You can’t really describe an experience like this,” said Reza. “We met so many wonderful people on Youth Tour. Although we may have different personalities, we all have the same mind-set and want to make our communities better places.”

Milburn and Reza learned about the cooperatives and the importance f communities coming together to accomplish great things. National Rural Electric Cooperative Association CEO Jim Matheson spoke about the history of co-ops and their role in bringing electricity to rural America. Delegates also had the opportunity to speak  to Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins, Congressmen Ron Estes and Roger Marshall and Senators Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts. Our Kansas representatives gave students a look at the inner workings of our legislation. The legislators echoed the importance of community involvement and encouraged delegates to be active in representing topics important to rural Americans.

Say cheese! Pioneer delegate Vanessa Reza snaps a quick picture while exploring the city.

“What I love about this trip is t it challenges these students to look past themselves and see what they can bring to their communities and schools,” said Pioneer Electric Communications Specialist Drew Waechter. “This is what a cooperative is all about. It’s looking past our differences and realizing there is so much we can do when we work together. It has been an honor to have these students represent Pioneer Electric, and I’m excited to see what they will accomplish in the future.”

Preparations for the 2018 Youth Tour are already underway, so keep an eye out during the fall 2017 semester for more information about the upcoming trip. Applications will be available to sophomores and juniors who attend Elkhart, Hugoton, Lakin, Moscow, Rolla, Stanton County, Syracuse and Ulysses high schools.
“Youth Tour is a great opportunity for our students,” said Waechter. “With the ongoing support of our members, we hope to continue this opportunity in the years to come!”
For additional photos and videos from the delegates’ journey, be sure to check out Pioneer Electric’s Facebook page or here.