Area 4-H youths get boost with $3,000 check
WORTHINGTON -- As its company continues to provide interconnections to the transmission grid for wind development across southern Minnesota and Iowa, ITC Midwest is looking to also inspire young minds to take an interest in the sciences and consider careers in high-tech jobs in renewable energy.
On Monday, ITC Midwest area manager Lori Broghammer presented a $3,000 check to the Minnesota 4-H Foundation for specific use to develop a science curriculum for 4-H members in Rock, Pipestone, Nobles, Murray, Jackson, Cottonwood, Martin and Watonwan counties.
It's the first such grant issued by the Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based company, which owns high-voltage electric transmission lines in Minnesota, Iowa and parts of Illinois and Missouri.
The company's latest project included installation of lines along Interstate 90 between Lakefield and Sherburn. ITC Midwest has warehouse facilities in Lakefield and Albert Lea.
University of Minnesota Regional Extension Director Holli Arp accepted the check. She said the money will be used to plan regional programs and events late this spring and summer.
The goal is to bring together Extension staff and volunteers to plan a hands-on, science-based curriculum with 4-H'ers.
The 4-H program is open to all youths in third grade to one year beyond high school.
"We want to get people excited about science by doing it, which is what 4-H is all about," Arp said. Not only does she hope to garner more interest in 4-H science project areas, she wants to promote the availability of science and alternative energy programming and career opportunities in southwest Minnesota.
Already, 4-H offers curriculum on wind energy and robotics, with more materials being developed on alternative energy. Those programs and resources, including "The Power of Wind" and "Wired for Wind" curricula, will be shared at the regional event.
Broghammer said as a relatively new company, ITC Midwest is looking to partner with communities, and helping to build a science curriculum for 4-H youths is one way to do just that.
"We felt this was a great opportunity for us," she said. "We feel that it's a great way for our company to partner with 4-H and get rural kids involved."
Broghammer said that over the course of the next few years, ITC Midwest will be looking to site new transmission lines in southwest Minnesota and throughout Iowa. Providing incentives for youths to learn more about the science industry -- particularly wind development and renewable energy -- is hoped to spark an interest in those careers.
"Overall it's a great partnership and, in the end, it's really helping the kids," she said. "A lot of our employees are engineers and ... we're going to have a lot of engineers in the next five years who are retiring. We're going to need engineers to fill that gap."