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August 15, 2022 9:47 pm


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HWE to Honor Students

Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative Trustees announced their plans to recognize three Youth Tour 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 co-op’s statewide association Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives.

Ryan Wenzinger of Deshler is the 2016 Ohio delegate for the NRECA conference in San Diego on February 23, 2017. The trustees plan to recognize Ryan and his fellow Hancock-Wood YLC delegates in a special ceremony on Friday, December 16, at noon, at the cooperative headquarters. 
“This is a tremendous honor and a privilege to represent my electric co-op on a national level,” said Ryan in a recent statement.
The co-op sent its first YLC representative Olivia Velasquez, named in 2013, to the NRECA convention in Nashville in 2014. The same honor was bestowed on Rachel Wenzinger in 2014 for the 2015 convention and her brother Ryan was named delegate in 2016 for the 2017 conference. 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, “We are proud of our rural Members, who are raising extraordinary young people who have accomplished much before their 18th birthdays.”
Ryan Wenzinger began 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 now attends. Rachel also was named this year’s Wood County Junior Fair Queen.
Noteworthy in her own right, Olivia Velasquez was the first Ohio YLC delegate 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 defended her cooperative’s labors to halt the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency efforts, which were resulting in shuttered coal plants and loss of jobs, before practical alternative energy sources were available. 
She spoke about the co-op future stating, “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 attends Harvard University, enrolled in the prestigious ivy-league school’s premedical program.
Typically, more than 40 scholarship and Youth Tour candidates apply each year from 10 counties within the co-op’s 10-district service territory. The YLC delegates are chosen from more than 1,600 applicants across the U.S. 
Trustees who will be recognizing the YLC 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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