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.

Beat the Peak

Cut back on summer peak usage with these 5 simple tips

As temperatures start to soar we find ourselves sweating from more than just the heat. The heat of summer often sees the height of utility costs. This is partially due to the increase in electrical load, but also when energy is being used. Throughout the day demand for energy fluctuates with the needs of members. These moments of high demand are called “on-peak hours” and heavy energy use can cause electrical rates to increase in summer months. While on-peak hours tend to vary between utilities, the general rule of thumb is that the majority of energy demand is in mornings (when we wake up, through heading off to work) and late afternoon through early evenings (when we return home from work). While scaling down the peak seems intimidating, there are numerous ways that you can help lower summer costs. Here are five simple tips to help ensure that the heat of the summer doesn’t boil your wallet.

1. Reduce the Load

The easiest way to avoid peak hour charges is to reduce energy usage during on-peak hours. Each month, our members are charged for the energy they use. When you cut back the amount of energy used, you cut back on the amount you are billed. Think back to growing up. We’ve all heard it: turn off the light when you leave the room, don’t leave the refrigerator door open, don’t let water run when you aren’t using it, shut off the television when you’re done using it. It may have seemed like nagging at the time, but it is good advice. A few seconds each day can add up to extra cash back in your pocket. Looking for a place to start? There are many creative solutions, online and on social media, to make saving fun! For example; hold a movie night by shutting off lights, closing blinds, unplugging those charging phones (we will get to those in a second) and limit energy consumption to a minimum.

2. Unplug

In the modern home, digital devices reign supreme. Tablets, smartphones, video game consoles, smart appliances and smartwatches rule the roost. However, these helpful pieces of technology have a drawback—an increase in power consumption. Walk into any home or office and chances are you will find a multitude of chargers and cables nestled in outlets. While this may make recharging easier, it means that these chargers are constantly drawing power. The U.S. Department of Energy predicts that 5 to 10 percent of a home’s electrical usage comes from these devices. So what’s the fix? Unplug a charger or electronic device when it isn’t in use. While this may not totally relieve this load, this will help ensure that you are getting the most out of the energy you choose to use. Another solution is to use a smart power strip. These look like typical power strips, but have features designed to help cut back on energy usage and are available at a variety of home improvement stores.

3. Turn It Up

Space heating and cooling is one of the biggest contributors to energy usage. It is estimated that over 30 percent of a household’s energy usage goes toward staying comfortable. That’s why one of the best ways to save during the heat of the summer is to cut back on cooling your home. Raise your thermostat four degrees during cooler parts of the day or whenever you leave your home for an extended period of time. When the heat of the day does arrive, use ceiling or stationary fans to help circulate the air in a room and close blinds and curtains to cut out the heat of the sun. This will help keep you away from the thermostat and keep your air conditioning system from working harder than it needs to. However, be sure to turn off the fan when leaving the room.

4. Switch Up Your Schedule

When you use your energy is just as important as how much energy you use. Energy-heavy chores—like washing dishes, doing laundry and cooking meals—often occurs during peak energy usage times. Break up chores so that they fall outside of peak hours. Start a load of dishes during a lunch break, designate the weekend to getting caught up on laundry and use smaller appliances or a slow cooker to prepare a few meals during the week. Experiment and find a schedule that works for you and your household.

5. Take It Outside

Warm summer weather makes this the perfect time of year to bring some of your housework to the outdoors. For example, fire up the grill and hold a barbecue or let laundry air dry. Another great way to unplug is to take some time to go outside and get away from the house. Schedule a date night, take the dog to the park, go for a jog, run some errands or go out and stare at the stars. Encourage your friends and family to find active ways to get outside this summer. Conserving energy is a benefit to our members, communities and cooperative. Coupling the above tips with the SmartHub mobile app or a free energy audit ensures that you are well on your way to taking the edge out of summer heat.

For additional energy conservation tips and for information on Pioneer Electric’s free energy conservation services, be sure to give us a call at 620-356-1211 or follow Pioneer Electric on Facebook.