Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives

Announcing our 2021 Shine the Light Contest Winners

August 13, 2021

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Earlier this summer, the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives of Iowa sponsored a new contest to highlight our cooperative commitment to community. The Shine the Light contest opened during the month of June and member-consumers and employees of Iowa’s locally owned electric cooperatives were invited to nominate volunteers in their communities who are making a difference.

“We were very pleased with the response we received this first year,“ remarked Erin Campbell, IAEC director of communications. “This contest gave our co-op members a wonderful opportunity to show their appreciation for family, friends and neighbors who are making a positive difference in their communities.”

We received 39 nominations from across the state, highlighting the work of incredible Iowans. Three winners were selected based on their community impact:

  • Suzanne Askelsen of Cambridge is a member of Consumers Energy and was nominated by Carol Gilbert, a Midland Power Cooperative member. Suzanne was recognized for her work with the Ballard Education Foundation. She was part of the new foundation’s steering committee and served as the first president for four years, identifying event sponsors and taking the lead on fundraising. A mother of six, she makes it a priority to serve in her community. Learn more about Suzanne and her work in this short video:
  • Deb McWhirter, a Butler County Rural Electric Cooperative member, nominated George North of Allison for his work with Wilder Park. Driven by his ethos to serve others, George is a retired dentist with a long record of community involvement, including several years as a scout leader. He was instrumental in developing Wilder Park to provide affordable outdoor recreational services in Butler County. Learn more about George and his work in this short video:
  • Marlene Walthart of Estherville was nominated by Dawn Eveleth, a member of Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative, for her work with the Emmet County Animal Shelter. Motivated by their love for animals, Marlene and her husband Larry have volunteered at the animal shelter for years and continue to serve the facility in various ways. Marlene and Larry also set up a can redemption center next door to raise money for the shelter. Learn more about Marlene and her work in this short video:

Each winner was honored with a $1,500 donation to their local charity. The winners will also be featured in the September issue of Living with Energy in Iowa magazine. All 39 nominators and nominees were highlighted in the August issue of the magazine.

The Shine the Light contest will return next summer; we will again accept volunteer nominations during the month of June at

For More Information:

Erin Campbell
IAEC director of communications

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