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HWE awards Young Member scholarships & honors
Posting Date: 04/23/2014

Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative recognized 12 local high school seniors who were awarded the co-op’s 2014 Young Member scholarships and one Youth Leadership Council national spokesperson who presented last month at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) convention in Nashville.

Olivia Velasquez, a junior at Pandora Gilboa High School in Ottawa, is a Hancock-Wood Youth Tour winner, who went on to be chosen as the national spokesperson of the Youth Leadership Council formed on that tour. She delivered a powerful “Are We There Yet?” presentation at the March 5 NRECA convention before an audience of 8,000, sharing the stage with such high-profile talent as famed journalist Jane Pauley and noted country-western performer Martina McBride.

In her speech, Olivia said, “In order to put change in motion, we must consider the emotion of the people involved. Before the EPA should ban coal-powered plants for harmful emissions, we must consider how to electrify rural homes, such as ours, without these plants. We may not have to go back to oil lamps, but electricity may not be available 24/7.” Olivia’s story also was featured twice in the national publication Rural Electric Magazine and several times in the NRECA national online publication Electric Co-op Today The board will present a special recognition to Olivia for her accomplishments.

Walton said, “We are so proud Olivia was chosen to represent Hancock-Wood at the 50th anniversary of the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour at the national meeting in Tennessee. Hancock-Wood is the first Ohio electric cooperative to send a YLC delegate to deliver a speech at the NRECA meeting. We also are proud of our scholarship winners. Hancock-Wood young members are becoming a force to be reckoned with in co-op triumphs.”

This year presented a record-breaking number of applicants for the Hancock-Wood Scholarship program. A total of $8,600 was awarded to local high school seniors excelling in academics, extracurricular activities, community involvement and electric cooperative knowledge. Two first-place winners competed for and won additional scholarships through the co-op’s statewide association, Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives, against the top two students from 24 cooperatives in the state.

First-place co-op winners of $1,000 each were Sawyer Kieffer and Anna Brown, both of Findlay. At the statewide level, Sawyer also won second place ($2,200–awaiting acceptance from either Case Western or Purdue universities in mechanical engineering) and Anna won seventh place ($1,400–awaiting acceptance from The Ohio State University in pre-medicine). Hancock-Wood second-place winners of $900 each are Justin Krouse of Van Buren and Edyn Mowrey of Findlay. Third-place winners of $800 each are Michael Kieffer of Fostoria and Rebecca Kirian of Alvada. Fourth-place winners of $700 each are Madison Arnold of Bloomdale and Matthew Rader of Deshler. Fifth-place winners of $600 each are Rachel Resnick of Van Buren and Austin Secor of Findlay. Sixth-place winners of $300 each are Brittany Bostelman of Deshler and Tyler Smith of Bloomdale. Another special $1,000 scholarship offered by the Earl and Edith Dick Foundation for education will be awarded to Jordan Hector of Mt. Corey. HWEC also offers scholarships to Findlay University and Owens Community College, which have not yet been awarded.

Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative, established April 20, 1938, serves portions of Hancock, Wood, Allen, Erie, Hardin, Henry, Putnam, Sandusky, Seneca and Wyandot counties. Throughout the co-op’s history, Hancock-Wood has supported local causes through charitable contributions, volunteerism and other activities to make a positive impact on community quality of life. For more information about Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative, visit or call 800-445-4840.

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