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
Estimator,
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.

MDU Resources partners with agencies to learn how to enhance employment opportunities for people of all abilities

Young adults who have Down syndrome shared their work experiences and needs, as well as challenges they face in a job. Their presentation was part of a collaboration with MDU Resources’ human resources team, Designer Genes and North Dakota State Council on Developmental Disabilities. Five managers from MDU Resources served as panelists who asked the presenters questions.

 

In recognition of World Down Syndrome Day, MDU Resources’ human resources team collaborated with Designer Genes and the North Dakota State Council on Developmental Disabilities to learn what employment supports are important to people who have Down syndrome.

Designer Genes is a Down syndrome support network in Bismarck, North Dakota. Its mission is to strengthen opportunities for individuals with Down syndrome and those who support them to learn, earn and belong.

During the lunch-and-learn session, young adults who have Down syndrome shared their work experiences and needs, as well as challenges they face in a job. Five managers from MDU Resources served as panelists who asked the students questions following their presentations.

“It was a very insightful event,” said Laura Lueder, MDU Resources manager of communications and public relations who served on the panel. “They explained tools and approaches that support people with Down syndrome and help them be successful in the workplace. This type of knowledge can help us identify future work opportunities in the company for people who have Down syndrome or other special needs.”

The four presenters shared various insights, including:

  • They work hard and take pride in their work.
  • They learn best by being told how to perform a task and then being shown how to do it.
  • Periodic sitting breaks help alleviate foot pain.
  • Time management tools, such as timers or clock alarms, can be helpful.
  • Let them do the job at their pace.

Lunch was provided by The Gifted Bean, a Bismarck-based coffeehouse that was started by parents to give their son and other individuals who have Down syndrome a place to work.

At the end of the event, Lueder presented Designer Genes a grant from the MDU Resources Foundation.

 

MDU Resources provides customized employment through internal initiative

According to Terese Schneider, senior human resources generalist, the lunch-and-learn session is part of the organization’s DEI initiative, Energize Diversability, to enhance employment opportunities for people of all abilities. The human resources team plans to partner with other local organizations for continued learning on how to meet the needs of all people.

Currently, MDU Resources’ human resources department in Bismarck employs a young adult who has special needs. Through the customized employment program, he works part time and has been helpful with various projects, such as taking inventory and other tasks.

Andrea Aldinger, senior human resources generalist, said the company hopes to continue offering customized employment opportunities in the future, as well as expand this to different regions of the company.

 

 

MDU Resources Foundation contributes more than $2 million in 2023

 

The MDU Resources Foundation provided $2,096,290 in grants to 600 charities and organizations in communities where MDU Resources Group companies operate.

Annually, the MDU Resources Foundation supports organizations qualified as tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Primary consideration is given to charitable institutions, organizations and programs within the geographic areas where member companies conduct business.

The foundation considers requests in the following categories:

  • Health and human services.
  • Education.
  • Civic and community activities.
  • Culture and arts.
  • Environment.

Contributions matching employee volunteer, donation efforts
The foundation also provided contributions to match employees’ volunteering efforts and support of educational institutions in 2023.

  • For the Volunteer Match program, the foundation contributed a total of $99,000 in 2023 to match 7,694 hours of reported employee volunteerism.
  • For the Education Match Program, the foundation contributed a total of $7,531 in 2023 to match employees’ contributions of $21,281.

Since 1983, the MDU Resources Foundation has contributed more than $42 million to worthwhile charities and organizations.

Learn more about the MDU Resources Foundation at www.mdu.com/about-us/community.

 

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.