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HWE Names Youth Leadership Council Delegates

NORTH BALTIMORE, OHIO–January 9, 2017 – Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative Trustees recognize three Youth Leadership Council delegates sent in four years’ time to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) annual meeting – a feat no other Ohio co-op on record has achieved, according to the statewide association Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives.

Ryan Wenzinger of Deshler is the 2016 delegate for the NRECA conference in San Diego in 2017. The trustees recognize Ryan and his fellow YLC delegates in a special ceremony in December. “This is a tremendous honor and a privilege to represent my electric co-op on a national level,” said Ryan.

The co-op sent its first ever YLC representative Olivia Velasquez, named in 2013, to the Nashville convention in 2014. The same honor was bestowed on Rachel Wenzinger in 2014 and her brother Ryan was named delegate in 2016. The siblings are both homeschooled and attend Owens Community College (OCC) post secondary enrollment option (PSEO) classes.

Hancock-Wood President and CEO George Walton said, “Our rural Members are raising extraordinary young people who accomplished much before their 18th birthdays. We are proud of the achievements of these students who apply each year from 10 counties within our northwest Ohio service territory.”

Ryan started his Triple R Hay business when he was 15 and grows, cuts, bales, sells and delivers hay. He serves as president of his 4-H Club and has been an officer on the Wood County Junior Fair Board for two years. Ryan also competes in varsity and golf sports through McComb Schools. Both he and his sister are active in their church as well.

Rachel Wenzinger operated her own cake business from age 11 and appears in several OCC television commercials. She has attended two-years of PSEO classes, providing a head start to her studies at Cedarville University, where she will attend in fall. Rachel also was named this year’s Wood County Junior Fair Queen.

Not to be outdone, Olivia was the first Ohio YLC delegate ever asked to speak at the NRECA national conference. Her “Are We There Yet?” speech was delivered to an audience of more than 8,000 CEOs, board members and co-op officials. She shared the stage with such high-profile talent as noted journalist Jane Pauley and famed country-western performer Martina McBride.

In her oration, 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

Olivia now attends Harvard University, enrolled in the prestigious ivy-league school’s premedical program.

Trustees who recognized the students include: Marlene Barker, Dave Corbin, James Demler, Tom Dierksheide, Ed Ingold, Tom Kagy, Bill Kale, Knut Lahrs, Gordon Miller and Tim Phillips.

Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative, established April 20, 1938, serves portions of Hancock, Wood, Allen, Erie, Hardin, Henry, Putnam, Sandusky, Seneca and Wyandot counties and remains dedicated to its commitment to furthering the quality of life in the communities it serves. For more information about Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative, visit<> or call 800-445-4840.

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