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Conservation club wins Touchstone award

Recipients of the Touchstone Energy Community Award are, front, from left, Hank Tate, Tami Wenthold, Mable Tomperi, Helen Comnick and Sharon Tate, back, Tom Hanninen, Mark Markela, Durwin Tomperi, David Tomperi, Lori Elmore, Gloria Markela, Kari Tomperi, Debra Tomperi and Monica Baso.

Itasca-Mantrap has named the Menahga Conservation Club as the winner of the local 2012 Touchstone Energy Community Award. In appreciation of its community service, the organization received an engraved plaque and a $500 check that will be donated to a charity of choice.

The Menahga Conservation Club strives to protect local waters and land while educating the next generation to do the same through involvement. The Club sponsors three main functions each year, encouraging those passionate about conservation to get involved.

The Kid's Fishing Derby takes place during the Menahga Mid-Summer Festival. This event encourages children ages 12 and under to experience fishing with the help of club members and families. Prizes are awarded for participation.

The Menahga Conservation Club adopted the Shell River in 2009 as part of the DNR's Adopt-a-River program. They schedule a clean up each year and encourage area youth to get involved in caring for the environment.

The Menahga Conservation Club also volunteers to monitor mussel population in area rivers, working with DNR malacologists. They survey three different locations on the Shell River and document quantities, species and ages of mussels.

Itasca-Mantrap sought candidates during the month of October for the Touchstone Energy Community Award, which recognizes organizations for outstanding contributions to the local community. "This area is blessed with many citizens and groups that are willing to donate time and effort to better our community," said Itasca-Mantrap's member services manager Esther Simon. "We are pleased that as a Minnesota Touchstone Energy cooperative, we have this opportunity to recognize those who impact our community in a positive way."

The Menahga Conservation Club's award application will be submitted for consideration in the statewide Minnesota Touchstone Energy Community Award.

The statewide award recipient will be selected from local award winners from around Minnesota. The winning organization will receive $1,000 to go toward their community cause. The Minnesota Touchstone Energy Community Award will be presented to the award recipient in February during the Minnesota Rural Electric Association annual meeting in St. Paul.