Employees recognized with corporate award for volunteerism, community involvement


Each year, MDU Resources honors employees who make outstanding contributions to its companies and the communities we serve.

For 2023, five employees have been recognized with the Community Spirit Award, which recognizes employees who are actively involved in their community. Each winner receives $1,000, plus $1,000 is given to a qualified charity of the winner’s choice. 

2023 Community Spirit Award winners

Nicole Carpenter
Project manager,
Bombard Electric, LLC
Las Vegas, Nevada

Carpenter, a project engineer, leads the charge when it comes to organizing and overseeing Bombard Electric’s commitment to the community. She is passionate about ensuring Las Vegas’ homeless are not forgotten, particularly around the holidays.

In 2023, Carpenter organized a company donation drive to collect clothing, food and basic essentials for the Las Vegas Rescue Mission. She also leads continual efforts to gather donations for Project 150, a local organization that focuses on helping homeless teens, providing everything from clothing to basic essentials.


Ben DeHart
ESI Electrical Contractors
Dayton, Ohio

DeHart is active with many organizations and volunteers his time to support their activities. He fixes and updates floats for the Dayton, Ohio, Christmas Parade and has even personally purchased tools needed to work on the floats.

Also during the holidays, DeHart organizes and leads the efforts to hang Christmas lights in downtown Dayton. Each year, he assembles a team of employees to volunteer on the weekends and leads the charge under a tight deadline. DeHart has been known to work alone in the rain, to hang lights when no other volunteers were available.

As a volunteer with his church, DeHart has helped wire the electricity in a home for people in need. He is also an instructor at the local Joint Apprentice Training Center, where he goes above and beyond by spending time with apprentices outside of class to help those who need additional coaching and training.


Mark Haag, manager of project Maximo
Shane Wothe, manager of enterprise endpoints and technical service
MDU Resources
Bismarck, North Dakota

Both Haag and Wothe are involved in Rebuilding Together, a non-profit that helps people with physical or income limitations make essential repairs to their homes. Haag and Wothe serve on the Executive Committee: Haag as the president and Wothe as the treasurer. They volunteer year-round in preparation for Rebuilding Together doing tasks ranging from conducting meetings, fundraising and reviewing applications to touring and selecting homes, coordinating volunteers and purchasing materials for the annual event. Last year, more than 20 homes in the community received improvements.


Matt Heinz
Working lead – Linecrew, Montana-Dakota Utilities
Dickinson, North Dakota

The individual who nominated Matt touted his tremendous commitment to organizations in his community, including giving time to youth hockey, football and baseball teams, as well as the Ronald McDonald House and the Roughrider Commission.

IT developers go back to school to inspire next generation of coders

Baley Wilson (top) and Clay Kuznia (bottom), both associate software developers, mentor their assigned students on a STEM project as part of his volunteer efforts for Hour of Code at Monroe Elementary School in Boise, Idaho. The event was part of Idaho’s Computer Science Education Week.
Photo credit: KTVB.com


Three members of MDU Resources’ Enterprise Information Technology web development team recently went back to school. Not to learn, but rather to help elementary students discover coding.

Joseph Murphy, Clay Kuznia and Baley Wilson, all associate software developers in EIT, volunteered for Hour of Code at Monroe Elementary School in Boise, Idaho. The event was part of Idaho’s Computer Science Education Week.

The trio heard of the volunteer opportunity from their supervisor. Wilson said he chose to volunteer because it was a good opportunity to share his skills with local kids. Kuznia thought it was a great way to foster interest in computer programming.

“My favorite part of volunteering was witnessing the ‘aha’ or ‘eureka’ moment when they found the solution to the problem, in most cases by themselves or with little help,” Wilson said. “It was cool to see the kids build confidence in themselves and build important problem-solving skills.”

For some classes, the coding lessons integrated popular video games to provide additional excitement for the kids. The students Wilson worked with love the game “Minecraft,” and the lessons provided a coding challenge for this game.

Murphy was paired with a third/fourth grade class, and the students caught on to the coding challenges almost immediately.

“My role ended up being a voice to push the kids to try new things and experiment rather than to teach the lessons,” Murphy said. “Overall, my favorite part of the experience was seeing the kids’ heartwarming enjoyment while problem solving and learning to code.”

Kuznia was assigned to a first grade class and loved seeing so much excitement in the classroom.

“It felt more like a fun activity instead of a lesson, and it was effortless to get the first grade students interested in the activity,” Kuznia said. “Many of the students were overjoyed when completing a section of their Scratch Jr. coding challenge. The kids appeared to be having a great time. Overall, it felt like a positive experience for everyone.”


Employees purchase gifts for 39 families

For the 19th year, employees in Bismarck and Mandan, North Dakota, gave generously in hopes of making the holidays a little brighter for families in need.

Employees at MDU Resources, Montana-Dakota Utilities, the Heskett Station, WBI Energy and MDU Construction Services Group supported the Abused Adult Resource Center’s Hope for the Holidays program by purchasing, wrapping and delivering gifts for 39 families consisting of 144 individuals.

The Abused Adult Resource Center is a nonprofit organization that serves victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in seven North Dakota counties.

Sonya Wald with Montana-Dakota Utilities has led the company’s participation with Abused Adult Resource Center’s program since 2013. At that time, 12 families received gifts.

According to Wald, employees from 36 departments contributed to this year’s effort.

“Abused Adult Resource Center had 300 individuals this year, so our exceptional teams were able to assist with almost half of the community need,” Wald said.

Wald and fellow co-workers Dyke Boese, Dave Wiedmeier, Sarah Kirkendall, Alice Gross and Holly Watts gathered and delivered the gifts, which nearly filled a 16-foot trailer.

22 students receive scholarships from MDU Resources Foundation’s Employee Scholarship Program

The MDU Resources Foundation recently awarded 22 scholarships worth $2,000 each to students who are family members of employees from across MDU Resources Group’s companies.

This year’s recipients are featured below.

The Employee Scholarship Program is awarded annually to children, grandchildren and spouses of eligible employees. Up to 30 scholarships in the amount of $2,000 are awarded each year.  Since 1987, the foundation has awarded more than $1.13 million in scholarships to family members of MDU Resources employees.

While the foundation funds and determines the criteria for awarding the scholarships, it hires Scholarship America to select the winners.

Scholarship recipients are selected based on:

  • Academic excellence, including class rank, test scores and grade-point average;
  • Work experience;
  • Participation in school and community activities;
  • Volunteerism; and
  • A written statement of their career goals.


Recipients of the 2023 Employee Scholarship Program

WBI Energy employee recognized with life-saver award

Ryan Muecke, senior area representative with WBI Energy, third from right, received the Liberty Mutual Life Saver Award for his actions to help a teenage boy in an ATV accident. Pictured with Muecke, from left, are Brian Voss, WBI Energy Worland District transmission supervisor; Muecke’s wife, Christy, and children, Curtis, Charlee and Tucker; Brandon Hoehn, technical consultant with Liberty Mutual; and Mike St. Clair, WBI Energy Worland District manager.


Ryan Muecke, a senior area representative in the Worland District for WBI Energy, was heading home from work recently when his sharp observation skills and instinct to stop may have saved the life of a teenage boy.

While Muecke was driving down a county road, he spotted the tire of an all-terrain vehicle sticking up out of a ditch. He slowed as he got closer and could see hands waving from under an overturned four-wheeler.

“I pulled safely off the road as quickly as I could and ran over to find a teenage kid with his leg pinned under the four-wheeler,” Muecke said. “He was not bleeding and didn’t appear hurt, but his leg was pinned and he couldn’t get out from under the machine.”

Muecke asked the boy if it was OK for him to try rolling the four-wheeler up enough for him to try to get out from under it. When the boy said it was, Muecke was able to lift it and the teen scrambled out.

Muecke said that after making sure the boy was OK and able to walk, the teen helped Muecke push the four-wheeler back onto its wheels. Another truck pulled up at that point, and the other driver also helped push the four-wheeler out of the ditch.

Muecke noted that the accident happened because the boy had a poorly secured load on his four-wheeler — a tank sprayer for spraying weeds. When a strap holding the tank came loose, it caught the front wheel and caused the ATV to flip down the steep embankment.

“I’m glad I was there to help, and that everything turned out OK. It could have been a lot worse if that ditch had been full of water or the tank had come loose and landed on him, or if fuel from the ATV had spilled,” Muecke said. “It was a good reminder to always make sure equipment is secured properly.”

For his actions that day, Liberty Mutual honored Muecke with the Life Saver Award “for outstanding courage and humanity.”

Employees volunteer during lunch break to serve meals to kids


More than 40 Bismarck-Mandan, North Dakota, employees volunteered during their lunch hour to serve meals for the Summer Hunger lunch program.

The MSA United Way and Bismarck Public Schools partner to provide free, hot meals to children under age 18 at 11 sites throughout Bismarck. Volunteers are instrumental in getting the meals to the mouths of hungry kids.

Employees from MDU Resources, WBI Energy, MDU Construction Services Group and Montana-Dakota Utilities, including the Bismarck Service Center, volunteered to serve meals.

The employees adopted two of the 11 sites throughout Bismarck to serve meals Monday through Friday. Each of those days, from June through mid-July, two employees at each site served meals, and many employees were repeat volunteers during the six weeks.

Kellie Erhardt, internal auditing director at MDU Resources, led the efforts on behalf of the company. She served as the liaison between United Way, recruited volunteers and managed all coordination efforts.

“Volunteer time and energy are invaluable to this program to help achieve its goals and serve our community,” Erhardt said. “It’s so amazing to see how our employees are quick to help, and some even included their families in this volunteer opportunity.”

Ferderer named to Bismarck Mandan Chamber EDC’s “20 Under 40” list

We’re proud to announce that Nikki Ferderer, assistant to the chair of the board and the president & CEO, has been named to the Bismarck Mandan Chamber EDC’s 20 Under 40 list.

In her role at MDU Resources, Nikki provides support to the CEO and board of directors of the region’s largest publicly traded company. She is a trustworthy team player who, no matter how busy she is, maintains her professional and friendly composure and makes it all look easy!

Ferderer joined MDU Resources in 2008 and was promoted to her current role in 2016.

Read more about Ferderer and the other professionals recognized at https://issuu.com/bismarckmandanchamberconnection/docs/08chamberedc_connissuu_ae6fac43132d83

Brightening birthdays: WBI Energy employees donate 42 Caring Cake Kits

Mindi Steckler (left), WBI Energy director of human resources, and Patty Fillion (second from left), WBI Energy administrative assistant, delivered 42 Caring Cake Kits to the Dream Center Bismarck. They were joined by Kelly and Johnathan Allen (center) with K&R Designs, and Dorreen Quist (second from right), manager of Dream Center Bismarck, and Jim Barnhardt (right), founder of Dream Center Bismarck.


Cakes and birthdays go hand in hand. But for families struggling to make ends meet, a birthday cake and celebration can bring added financial stress.

In honor of America’s birthday, July Fourth, employees in WBI Energy’s Bismarck, North Dakota, office created Caring Cake Kits to help struggling families celebrate their loved ones’ birthdays.

Patty Fillion, administrative assistant at WBI Energy, rallied her co-workers around this initiative. Payroll teams from MDU Resources and Knife River, which are both located in WBI’s building, also participated.

Employees donated enough supplies to create 42 kits. Each Caring Cake Kit includes:

  • A nine by 13-inch disposable aluminum cake pan.
  • Cake mix.
  • Icing.
  • A can of Sprite, which can be used in place of eggs and oil in a cake mix.
  • Candles.
  • A birthday card.

The employees’ efforts were in collaboration with K&R Designs and the Dream Center Bismarck, both in Bismarck, North Dakota. The Caring Cake Kit is K&R Design’s community initiative, and the kits are distributed through the Dream Center’s food pantry.

Inspired by personal experience
Caring Cake Kits is the brainchild of Kelly Allen, co-founder of K&R Designs. It was inspired by her own experience during a time of financial hardship.

When her husband lost his job during the pandemic, they couldn’t afford a cake for their child’s birthday. It was also during this time when they became familiar with the Dream Center, as they used its services, including the food pantry.

The Caring Cake Kits initiative is one way the Allen family pays it forward and helps others in need. They partnered with the Dream Center, which distributes the kits through its food pantry. This ensures families in need never miss a birthday celebration.


About the Dream Center Bismarck
The Dream Center Bismarck is a nonprofit center dedicated to serving low-income and struggling families, children, elderly, disabled, veterans and individuals in the Bismarck-Mandan, North Dakota area.


Bismarck-Mandan employees repair two homes during Rebuilding Together event

Over two weekends, employees from MDU Resources and Montana-Dakota Utilities volunteered for Rebuilding Together in Bismarck-Mandan, North Dakota. MDU Resources sponsored two of the 18 projects selected this year.

Bismarck-Mandan employees and family members volunteered at the annual Rebuilding Together event in the community. Over two weekends, a total of 21 employees representing MDU Resources and Montana-Dakota Utilities shared their time and talents to fix and improve various items at two homes.

This year, MDU Resources sponsored two of the 18 projects Rebuilding Together Bismarck-Mandan took on.

MDU Resources employees Shane Wothe, manager of enterprise endpoints and technical services, and Mark Haag, manager of project Maximo and process improvement, served as house captains.

Rainy weather didn’t stop the team during the first weekend

During the first weekend, volunteers made repairs to the home of an elderly disabled person. The largest part of the project was to relevel the front porch and rebuild the existing set of entry stairs, which were falling apart and creating a safety hazard for the homeowner. Smaller repairs done by the team ranged from repairing window screens to replacing flooring to caulking windows and many other tasks.

Cold, rainy weather on the first day did not hinder the volunteers’ dedication or efforts.

“I’m so grateful that the volunteers did not let the rain stop them from completing our work,” Wothe said.

Second weekend aided by multi-day volunteers and sunshine

The next weekend brought about warmer weather for volunteers, who had a long to-do list to tackle at the second house. The tasks included lawn/yard care, painting walls and cabinetry, replacing flooring and subflooring and much more.

Haag said the volunteers for the second house worked hard and tackled the large to-do list, as well as unforeseen repairs that needed to be made to the home.

“Many of the volunteers from MDU Resources and Montana-Dakota were multi-day helpers,” Haag said. “Shane and I would like to thank them for sticking with it and pushing through to the end.”

Rebuilding Together of Bismarck-Mandan is a nonprofit that helps elderly and disabled low-income homeowners stay warm, safe and dry by making essential repairs to their homes.

Utility group’s customer service supervisors share remote work success tips at industry conference

Jennifer Correia, customer service supervisor
Angie Robertson, customer service supervisor











While many businesses are attempting to bring employees back to the office, MDU Utilities Group has embraced remote work as a solution to recruitment and retention challenges for customer service positions.

In fact, Jennifer Correia and Angie Robertson, both customer service supervisors with the utility group, are leading the way within the utility industry on embracing and implementing a successful remote work strategy.

The supervisor duo recently shared their expertise with remote work by presenting at the Western Energy Institute’s Customer + Corporate Symposium. The topic caught the attention of many conference attendees, resulting in a standing-room-only crowd and the largest number of attendees at any breakout session.

Correia and Robertson said they wanted to share their success with hiring remote staff because utilities are losing employees due to employers’ return-to-office requirements, which makes the already difficult task of recruiting and retaining employees for inbound customer service roles even more challenging.

“We want our fellow utility companies to know that remote work can be successful, and we want to help make a shift in other companies,” Correia said.

“Many who attended our presentation found it mind blowing that this works,” Robertson added.

Telecommuting and generations at work
In their presentation, Correia and Robertson shared their strategy with using remote staff, as well as the importance of understanding the different generations in the workforce. Both topics tie into employee recruitment, retention, engagement and development.

“For the first time, the national workforce consists of five generations, and the Utility Group’s customer service team is a perfect example of this,” Robertson noted. “Our team includes employees as young as 19 years old, up to 73 years old.”

A third point Robertson and Correia also emphasized was the importance of support from leadership.

“We wouldn’t be as successful as we are without the support from our leaders,” Correia noted.

Due to the popularity of their presentation at the Customer + Corporate Symposium, WEI asked Correia and Robertson to write an article based on their presentation. It was featured in the association’s spring magazine.

About their team
Correia and Robertson manage their team of nine customer service team leads and 98 customer service representatives. There is a small staff who work from offices in Boise, Idaho, and Bismarck, North Dakota. The remaining employees work remotely from locations spanning the Utilities’ local service territories.

Support from the Utility Group’s local offices has been instrumental in helping build a culture and connection with remote customer service representatives and the company. Correia and Robertson introduce remote employees to the Utility Group’s nearest local office. After that, remote employees are invited to that office for safety meetings, United Way luncheons and other employee activities.

MDU Utilities Group is a subsidiary of MDU Resources.