April 2022 HomeWorks

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April 2022

MICHIGAN

COUNTRY LINES HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative

Choose Your Own Adventure WITH GEOCACHING

Recognizing Our Lineworkers

2022 District Meeting Info Spring Digging Safety


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Contents countrylines.com

April 2022 Vol. 42, No. 4

/michigancountrylines

/michigancountrylines

6 GROWING ORGANICALLY Through enthusiasm, a commitment to sustainability, and roots in the community, Bear Creek Organic Farm has achieved its vision of a “homestead on steroids.”

Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives

10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Spice It Up: Kick up the heat.

EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr

14 CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE WITH GEOCACHING Nature enthusiasts and tech lovers alike will delight in the world’s largest treasure hunt.

GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Karreen Bird

RECIPE EDITOR: Christin McKamey COPY EDITOR: Yvette Pecha CONTRIBUTING EDITOR: Emily Haines Lloyd

PUBLISHER: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association Michigan Country Lines, USPS-591-710, is published monthly, except August and December, with periodicals postage paid at Lansing, Mich., and additional offices. It is the official publication of the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association, 201 Townsend St., Suite 900, Lansing, MI 48933. Subscriptions are authorized for members of Alger Delta, Cherryland, Great Lakes, HomeWorks Tri-County, Midwest Energy & Communications, Ontonagon, Presque Isle, and Thumb electric cooperatives by their boards of directors. Postmaster: Send all UAA to CFS. Association Officers: Robert Kran, Great Lakes Energy, chairman; Tony Anderson, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; Eric Baker, Wolverine Power Cooperative, secretary-treasurer; Craig Borr, president and CEO.

CONTACT US/LETTERS TO EDITOR: Michigan Country Lines 201 Townsend St., Suite 900 Lansing, MI 48933 248-534-7358 editor@countrylines.com

CHANGE OF ADDRESS: Please

notify your electric cooperative. See page 4 for contact information.

The appearance of advertising does not constitute an endorsement of the products or services advertised.

Be featured! Use #micoopcommunity for a chance to be featured here and on our Instagram account.

#micoopcommunity

Want to walk with me? Don’t forget your microspikes #repost @cindyscoviacphotos (Cindy Scoviac)

MI CO-OP COMMUNITY To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit countrylines.com/community

RECIPE CONTEST

GUEST COLUMN

Win a $50 bill credit!

Win $150 for stories published!

Up Next: Potatoes, due May 1; Pasta Salads, due July 1

Submit your fondest memories and stories at countrylines.com/community.

Submit your recipe at micoopkitchen.com, or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to recipes@countrylines.com.

MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

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Join Us For Your 2022 Virtual District Meeting

homeworks.org /homeworks.org tricoenergy@homeworks.org Portland office/Mail payments to: 7973 E. Grand River Ave. Portland, MI 48875 Open 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday–Friday

Blanchard office: 3681 Costabella Ave. Blanchard, MI 49310 Open 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday–Friday Night deposit box available at both locations. Electric bill/account questions: 517-647-7554 or 1-800-562-8232 Pay by phone, anytime: 1-877-999-3395

Service questions/outages: 517-647-7554 or 1-800-848-9333 (24 hours for emergency calls)

By Chris O’Neill, CEO

S

pring is in the air, and here at HomeWorks, that means it’s district meeting time!

Our board of directors has voted to hold the meetings virtually again this year, after great member response to the livestreamed virtual format last year. Attendees tell us they really enjoyed the convenience of our 2021 online meetings, and for our part, we’ve found that the virtual format allows us to achieve all of the objectives of our traditional district meetings, while reaching and engaging with a larger portion of our membership. This includes many members who may have struggled to attend in person in the past due to scheduling conflicts and other obstacles.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

You can read more details about our virtual district meetings, including your meeting date, on pages 16 and 17 of this issue. It’s important that you also watch your mailbox and your email inbox this month for specific information on registering for and attending your meeting. For now, though, I want to whet your appetite with the top-four reasons that I think you should join us at your 2022 livestreamed virtual district meeting:

District 2 — Jim Stebbins 7139 Peddler Lake Rd., Clarksville, MI 48815 616-693-2449 • jstebbins@homeworks.org

• To become more engaged with your Co-op: As a member-owner of HomeWorks, you have a voice and a vote in everything we do, so it’s important to stay up to date on our operations. Your district director and I will provide you with a great summary of everything your Cooperative has been up to over the past year at your district meeting.

District 4 — Kimber Hansen 6535 N. Wyman Rd., Edmore, MI 48829 989-506-5849 • khansen@homeworks.org

• To learn about all the ways we can serve you: You know about the reliable electric service we provide to your home and/or business, but at your district meeting, we’ll tell you what our other great services, like HomeWorks Connect high-speed internet, HomeWorks Tri-County Propane, and our new energy optimization program, could do for you.

District 6 — Ed Oplinger, Secretary-Treasurer 10890 W. Weidman Rd., Weidman, MI 48893 989-644-3079 • eoplinger@homeworks.org

• To hear about HomeWorks’ impact on your community: Thanks to the support of members like you, we’ve been able to donate funds to several local food banks, schools, charitable organizations, and families in need throughout the past year. We’re excited to tell you about the difference those donations have made for those in need in your area.

Tri-County Propane: 1-877-574-2740

HomeWorks Connect 1-800-668-8413 District 1 — John Lord, Vice-Chairman 2276 Plains Rd., Leslie, MI 49251 517-974-2518 • jlord@homeworks.org

District 3 — Luke Pohl, Chairman 15560 W. Hanses Rd., Westphalia, MI 48894 989-292-0427 • lpohl@homeworks.org

District 5 — Corinna Batora 7655 N. Watson Rd., Elsie, MI 48831 517-256-5233 • cbatora@homeworks.org

District 7 — Shirley Sprague 15563 45th Ave., Barryton, MI 49305 989-382-7535 • ssprague@homeworks.org Editor: C harly Markwart, CCC

• To win big prizes! We love to hand out prizes to our members, and this year’s virtual district meetings will be no different. In fact, there will be more giveaways than ever, with three different ways to win great prizes like smart TVs, robot vacuums, HomeWorks bill credits, and much more. And all you have to do for the chance to win is log on to your meeting! For more on our 2022 virtual district meetings, visit HomeWorks.org. My staff and I are really looking forward to the opportunity to update you on all your Co-op has been up to over the past year. I hope to “see” you there!

4 APRIL 2022


You’ve Got

FRIENDS

In High Places.

Our lineworkers helped provide you with power that was 99.95% reliable last year.

April 18, 2022, is National Lineworker Appreciation Day. On this special day and every day, we recognize the outstanding hard work and dedication of every single member of our electric operations department. Thank you, HomeWorks lineworkers, for everything you do to serve our members. We appreciate you!

#ThankALineworker MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES

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Courtney Kent Photography

Growing Organically I

n 2014, when Anne and Brian Bates started looking for a piece of land where they could start organic farming, they had a wild but achievable vision. “We wanted to create a homestead,” said Brian. “On steroids.” Entering year nine of Bear Creek Organic Farm, Petoskey's first-ever 100% USDA Certified Organic Farm and the first B Corp Certified Farm in the state of Michigan, things have gotten a little bigger than the Bateses first imagined. It’s mostly because their raw enthusiasm, passion, and pluck were just the “steroids” that their 76-acre piece of land needed to grow into a thriving business. While other business owners may kick things off with a one- or five-year plan, the Bateses were looking at something a bit more long-term. 6

APRIL 2022

“When you’re looking at farming, it’s not a quick-turn business,” said Brian. “We were looking for something that we could grow over 50 or 60 years.” The couple was looking at more northern climates, ultimately to hedge their bet against the fallout of climate change. The sandy terroir of Emmet County ended up the final winner. With neither hailing from farming families, Brian and Anne took internships on CSA farms, attended lots of farming seminars, and even ventured into Beekeeping 101. “There’s a lot of knowledge that gets passed down on family farms,” said Brian. “We were starting from scratch. But it felt like we’d ventured into the Old West. There was so much to learn, but everything seemed possible.” While they lacked the generational knowledge, their enthusiasm and even their naivete seemed to blend perfectly with the sandy soil of

By Emily Haines Lloyd

northern Michigan, as the farm started to grow as wildly as their crops. When asked about the decision to maintain a fully organic farm, Brian insists that while it aligns with their personal values, it wasn’t because they were looking to be rebels. “We knew we’d be the first organic farm in the area,” said Brian. “It’s not to be some sort of counter-culture revolutionary. We believe it is the most sustainable way to grow food, and we want to be part of the solution for the long haul.” Similar to their organic commitment, the Bateses have also invested in balancing the resources the farm consumes with a commitment to energy. As members of Great Lakes Energy Cooperative, the Bateses have invested in a 30-panel solar array. “When we first started the farm, we had this idea of making our own energy. We’d never heard of an


If we support the making of ‘good electrons,’ we feel like the market will see the value in the co-op model and we can all start supporting renewable energy producers.

electric co-op before,” said Brian. “If we support the making of ‘good electrons,’ we feel like the market will see the value in the co-op model and we can all start supporting renewable energy producers.”

With production booming (Bear Creek had their first million-dollar year), a dozen full-time employees, and 85% of their crops sold and consumed within a 12-mile radius of the farm–the idea of the lonesome homestead is long gone. As the Bateses have come to understand and know their community, as well as get more involved in groups like the local Chamber of Commerce, Crooked Tree Arts Center, and Thriving Petoskey, Brian and Anne understand more and more how deeply community affects farm life. As COVID-19 changed the lives of everyone, often closing people off–the

Bateses were faced with the opposite reality. With farmers markets closing, Brian and Anne actually opened Bear Creek Organic Farm up to the public. Intermingling between staff and customers, sharing time and space, and with a passion for lovingly grown food—Bear Creek Organic Farm keeps growing both logistically and communally. “We started out with this idea of doing everything on our own, but there is nothing sustainable about

In addition to the solar array panel that produces 10kW of renewable energy to the farm, Bear Creek Organic Farm is committed to sustainability in a variety of ways, including: • Passive solar hoophouses and greenhouses • Ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel in their tractor • Clamshells are made in Michigan from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic and are 100% recyclable • Packaging boxes, flats, and cartons are made 100% recyclable in Michigan • Transplant containers and propagation flats are made locally,

living on an island of self-reliance,” said Brian. “With every person we’ve met, everyone who has answered a question, or helped fix a tractor or build a greenhouse–we wouldn’t go back to the initial idea. Not when there is this new version with so many beautiful humans rooting for you.” It looks like another bumper crop of certified organic vegetables, civic engagement, and compassionate community for Bear Creek Organic Farm this year.

of recycled plastic, and are fully recyclable • “Plastic” produce bags at their on-farm market are 100% plantbased and 100% biodegradable in normal compost piles • Paper shopping bags are 100% recycled paper and 100% recyclable • Beehives are never treated with any fungicides, insecticides, or pesticides, ever

For more information, visit: bearcreekorganicfarm.com /bearcreekorganicfarm /bearcreekorganicfarm

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Digging This Spring? Think Safety First And Call 811 If you’re like most people, you’re more ready than ever to get outside and get some fresh air this spring. Maybe you’re excited to get out and refresh your flower beds with new plants, or even complete a major landscaping or home improvement project. In order to keep your family and your neighborhood safe, just remember that if your work requires digging, you should call MISS DIG at 811 three full working days before each job to get your utility lines marked for free. MISS DIG is Michigan’s nonprofit utility safety notification system. The organization makes it easy for homeowners, farmers, excavators, and contractors to have utility lines marked in order to ensure that they can complete their projects safely and without damaging utility equipment or potentially causing a service interruption. The depth of utility lines varies, and there may be multiple utility lines in a common area. Lines can sometimes be buried just a few inches deep, so even small projects like planting trees and shrubs require a call.

Why Do I Need to Call 811?

Digging without calling can disrupt utility service to an entire neighborhood, harm you and those around you, and potentially result in fines and repair costs. Calling 811 three full working days before every digging job gets your underground utility lines marked for free, and helps prevent undesired consequences. What If I Have HomeWorks Tri-County Propane? MISS DIG marks electric and communication lines, but does not mark propane lines. Still, it’s just as important to have your propane lines marked before any digging project. If you have service through HomeWorks Tri-County Propane, all you need to do is give us a call at 877-574-2740 three full working days before your digging job and we will come out to mark your propane lines for free. Learn more about MISS DIG’s services at missdig811.org.

Digging this spring? Think safety and call 811 first!


Plants & Flowers

SNAP SHOT

1. April Vanderslice of Grand Ledge says, “This is a striped daylily I got a few years ago. I was so happy last summer when it was loaded with huge blooms!” 2. Jennifer Lucas of Blanchard took this photo of her bluebird house surrounded by sweet pea vines. 3. Lynn Thelen of Westphalia submitted this picture of the peony bush in her rock garden. 4. Rita Wernette of Lake captured this snap shot of irises in the morning sunrise. 5. Karen Retter of Jerome, receiving service in Barryton, says, “It’s always nice when the yard shows us some love!” 6. Cindy Zavadil of Okemos, receiving service in Canadian Lakes, submitted this photo of chives in her garden being visited by a beautiful hummingbird. 7. Mickey Burns of Eagle submitted this snap shot of lilies in the spring.

1

4 Enter to win a

$10

energy bill credit!

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5

3

6

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Upcoming Snap Shot Contest Topics and Deadlines Hometown Pride, due April 18 (June issue) Ice Cream, due May 17 (July/August issue) Farms & Harvest, due July 18 (September issue) Go to HomeWorks.org, select the Energy tab, then choose Member Services>Country Lines to submit your photos and see all of the 2022 Snap Shot themes. It’s fast and easy. To send by mail: include your name, address, phone number, photographer’s name, and details about your photo. Mail to Attn: Country Lines Snap Shots, 7973 E. Grand River Ave., Portland, MI 48875. Photos will not be returned. Do not send color laser prints or professional studio photos.

Submit Your Photos! Members whose photos we publish in Country Lines in 2022 will receive a $10 bill credit the month after publication.

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MI CO-OP Recipes

Photos by Robert Bruce Photography || Recipes Submitted by MCL Readers and Tested by Recipe Editor Christin McKamey

SPICE IT UP Kick up the heat.

WINNING RECIPE! BLACK BEAN CAKES WITH LIME SOUR CREAM Christine Johnson, Great Lakes Energy

Bean Cakes: 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided 6 garlic cloves, minced 2 fresh jalapeños, seeded and finely diced 1 tablespoon ground cumin 2 (14-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained (pat dry) ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon black pepper 2 cups finely grated raw sweet potato (press with paper towels to remove moisture) 4 green onions, thinly sliced 1 egg, lightly beaten ½ cup panko breadcrumbs Lime Sour Cream: ½ cup sour cream 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice 1 small jalapeño, seeded and minced • salt and pepper, to taste

RECIPE CONTEST Win a

$50

energy bill credit!

10 APRIL 2022

Potatoes due May 1 • Pasta Salads due July 1 Submit your favorite recipe for a chance to win a $50 bill credit and have your recipe featured in Country Lines with a photo and a video. Submit your recipe at micoopkitchen.com, or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to recipes@countrylines.com.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, jalapeño, and cumin; sauté until softened and fragrant. Transfer contents of skillet to a large mixing bowl. Stir in black beans and mash well. Add salt, black pepper, sweet potato, green onions, egg, and breadcrumbs. Divide into 12 balls and flatten into patties. To the medium skillet over medium heat, add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and sauté the bean cakes, turning often so as not to burn. Cook about 5–6 minutes or more on each side, until browned and cooked through. To make lime sour cream, mix the sour cream, lime juice, jalapeño, and salt/pepper in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate (can be made first). Serve black bean cakes topped with lime sour cream. Note: You can also bake the cakes at 375 F for 30–45 minutes (spray both sides with baking oil first), then flip 20 minutes in to ensure even cooking. The longer you bake, the firmer and drier they will get. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/videos


KICKIN’ HOT CHOCOLATE Deb Finedell, Great Lakes Energy

2 cups whole milk ½ teaspoon vanilla extract 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon sugar ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon • pinch kosher salt • generous pinch cayenne pepper or hot chili powder 3½ ounces chopped dark chocolate • whipped cream to serve, optional

Combine milk, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and cayenne (or chili powder) in a medium pot. Heat over medium heat until simmering. Reduce the heat a little and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Add chopped chocolate. Cook, whisking, until the chocolate is fully melted and emulsified. Taste for sweetness and spice. Adjust as needed. Pour hot chocolate into mugs. Add whipped cream if desired. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

SHRIMP CREOLE

Tommie Schmidt, Midwest Energy & Communications 2 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

tablespoons olive oil cup diced green peppers cup diced white or yellow onion cup diced celery teaspoon chili powder (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes (8-ounce) can tomato sauce tablespoon hot sauce tablespoon Worcestershire sauce teaspoon white sugar pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

To a medium skillet over medium heat, add the oil, peppers, onion, and celery. Sauté until soft. Add to slow cooker. Add chili powder, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and white sugar. Cover and cook on high 3 hours. Add shrimp, cover, and cook an additional 3–5 minutes. Serve over rice. Serves 8.

ALL-IN FIRED UP CHILI Dennis Miller, Great Lakes Energy

1 pound ground round, browned, crumbled, and drained 1 pound Bob Evans hot breakfast sausage, browned, crumbled, and drained 1 pound stew beef, seared 1 pound boneless/skinless chicken breast, cut into chunks and cooked 1 large red onion, diced 1 large red bell pepper, diced 1 large green bell pepper, diced 1 cup celery, chopped 3 cloves garlic, minced 4–5 hot peppers (serrano, jalapeño, habanero, etc.), diced

1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chiles 1 (28-ounce) can stewed tomatoes 1 (15-ounce) can hot chili beans 1 (15-ounce) can Great Northern beans 1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans 1 (15-ounce) can black beans 1 bottle spicy V8 juice 3 tablespoons chili powder Add all ingredients to a large stew pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer low, stirring occasionally, for at least 2 hours. Serve in a bowl with a dollop of sour cream and crumbled corn chips.

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KEEP YOUR FAMILY SAFE

WITH A 911-ONLY PHONE LINE! Safety always comes first at HomeWorks. That’s why HomeWorks Connect is offering a 911-only landline phone option for our internet subscribers: Talk-911. Talk-911’s location feature ensures that your phone line comes preprogrammed with your address so that any calls made to 911 will be automatically traced to your location. Because it’s a landline phone option, you also won’t have to worry about spotty connections or dropped calls. Talk-911 provides a line that allows you to make calls only to 911. This is a perfect option for homes that need a reliable way to contact help in the case of an emergency. The location feature gives you the peace of mind of knowing that your young children or aging family members will be able to be located during an emergency that they’ve called in, even if they can’t give an address over the phone. Interested in this service? If you’re already an internet subscriber, give our office a call at 800-668-8413 and we’ll be happy to add this to your package selection. If you don’t have our internet yet, preregister today at Join.HomeWorksConnect.org by inputting your address. Find out which zone you’re in and which stage of construction your area is in. You’ll also be able to select the Talk-911 package and any of our other internet or phone packages. Have questions? Please call us at 800-668-8413!

Talk-911

$ 14.95 /mo.

with autopay savings*

911 Calling Only Preprogrammed address for 911 call centers One-time $10/line activation charge not included in price

ONLY AVAILABLE FOR INTERNET SUBSCRIBERS *Non-autopay fee is $5/mo. per account

MAKE YOUR HOME OFFICE THE BEST IT CAN BE

Make sure your internet speeds and phone lines are able to handle whatever life throws your way.

INTERN

E

T PACKA GE START A T ONLYS

$54.95


Your Board In Action Meeting in Portland on February 21, your board of directors: • Received an update on the 2022 director election process in districts 1, 5, and 7 from CEO Chris O’Neill. • Reviewed an in-depth update on the progress of the construction and deployment of the HomeWorks Connect fiber internet network. • Held elections for HomeWorks’ representation on the boards of three of the Co-op’s partner organizations, electing Director Jim Stebbins as the board’s new representative on the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association’s board, Director Kimber Hansen as a new representative on the Wolverine Power Cooperative board, and Director John Lord as the new representative on the board of Spartan. • Reviewed the Co-op’s association memberships and authorized management to renew the memberships and pay the required annual dues. • Received an annual update on the Co-op’s cybersecurity program, provided by CIO Tom Manting.

2022 annual membership meeting of the Cooperative Response Center. • Discussed and accepted Policy 505 – Cooperative Purchasing, as revised. • Learned there were 75 new members in January. • Acknowledged the January safety report, listing employee training as well as minor employee and public incidents involving electric, propane, or fiber optic.

Time Set Aside for Members to Comment Before Cooperative Board Meetings The first 15 minutes of every board meeting are available for members who wish to address the board of directors on any subject. The next meetings are scheduled for 9 a.m. on April 25 at Portland and 9 a.m. on May 23 at Blanchard. Members who wish to have items considered on the board agenda should call 517-647-7554 at least a week in advance of the meeting.

• Appointed voting delegates for the 2022 annual meeting of Wolverine Power Cooperative and the

People Fund Grants Nearly $4,000 To Local Families And Organizations In Need Meeting remotely on Feb. 16, our People Fund board awarded five grants totaling $3,878.06, including: • $1,095 to a Clinton County family, to assist with the cost of a furnace; • $1,000 to Housing Services Mid Michigan in Charlotte, to provide housing assistance; • $1,000 to Mid Michigan Industries in Mt. Pleasant, to support virtual reality training; • $563.48 to a Mecosta County family, to assist with propane heating expenses; and • $219.58 to an Isabella County family, to assist with utility expenses.

How to Apply for a Tri-County Electric People Fund Grant The Tri-County Electric People Fund provides grants to individuals and organizations in the Co-op’s service area for food, shelter, clothing, health, and other humane needs, or for programs or services that benefit a significant segment of a community. Write to 7973 E. Grand River Ave., Portland, MI 48875, for an application form and grant guidelines, or visit the People Fund page at HomeWorks.org. Note: Applications must be received by May 3 for the May meeting or by June 14 for the June meeting.

MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 13


Choose Your Own Adventure WITH GEOCACHING

P

erhaps the most concise explanation of geocaching can be found on a bumper sticker that reads:

A scavenger hunt using multimillion-dollar satellites to find Tupperware in the woods. If that’s not quite enough to get you interested in the sport—and yes, enthusiasts insist it’s a sport—then maybe a few more details might help. The perfect combination of technology and nature, geocaching started more than 20 years ago in Oregon using decommissioned satellites and longitude and latitude coordinates to locate a specific spot. This outdoor recreational activity uses a GPS receiver or mobile phone to locate a “cache” in a specific location that is uploaded to the official website—geocaching.com. Your average cache is a small, waterproof container that must at the very least contain a logbook and sometimes a pen or pencil. Just as often, tiny toys or tchotchkes can be found with a “take one/leave one” exchange policy. All you have to do to join the fun is create a free profile on the website and prepare to get hooked. Most of us already hold the key tool in our hands, a mobile device with some navigational ability. Also required is

14 APRIL 2022

By Emily Haines Lloyd Photos courtesy of Jamie Ball, Michigan DNR.

something we all started out with, but have often forgotten along the way–our sense of curiosity. “Geocaching gives you this fun reason to go exploring,” said Stephanie Yancer, social media coordinator for Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “You get out there in the woods or the wild and there is this wave of fun and excitement you can’t help but feel.” Walking through parks, forests, hilltops, and even urban environments, a cache can be found anywhere. With caches located in 191 different countries, on all seven continents, this global treasure hunt may well speak to our fascination with buried and lost treasure and tug at our inner Indiana Jones. With more than 3 million caches around the world, it’s no wonder there are 7 million active geocachers on geocaching.com. Locally in Michigan, there are many avid geocachers, including individuals who belong to MiGO (Michigan Geocaching Organization). Steve Bassette, who is the president of the executive committee and an avid geocacher himself, has helped grow interest in the sport, which also promotes environmental stewardship and an appreciation of the outdoors.


“I ‘accidentally’ came across geocaching when my wife and I were camping and kept seeing a couple hopping on and off their bikes in the woods where we were set up. We finally asked them what they were doing,” said Bassette. “They explained geocaching to us and we’ve been hooked ever since.” Bassette and MiGO hope to leave the discovery of the sport less up to chance and are determined instead to bring as much attention to geocaching as they can. MiGO has partnered often with the DNR and other organizations to coordinate year-round events, including Camp MiGO every August and specialized events like the Michigan State Parks GeoTour, which celebrated our state parks’ 100-year anniversary in 2019 by placing 100 new caches throughout the state that can now be accessed annually.

“You get out there in the woods or the wild and there is this wave of fun and excitement you can’t help but feel.”

“After surveying folks who participated in the GeoTour, we found that people had discovered 80 new parks on average for themselves through the event,” said Yancer. “This is the heart of geocaching—discovering something new.” Yancer has even found herself discovering things in environments she thought she knew well. While participating in an Adventure Lab, a sort of clue-based cache that involves multiple sites, Yancer took a colleague on a tour of the murals in downtown Bay City, where she works. She saw many wonderfully expressive paintings– some she knew, some she didn’t, and some she was seeing with new eyes. “It was such a great way to show someone Bay City,” said Yancer. “And to rediscover it for myself.” Ultimately, geocaching can be as simple or complicated as you want it to be. Each cache is identified by two indicators–difficulty and terrain. You can use your phone or find yourself a GPS receiver. You can look in Antarctica or Ann Arbor for treasure. In the end, it’s your quest. “The best part of geocaching is the unexpected adventures it takes you on,” said Bassette.

Geocaching Go Bag After creating your free profile on geocaching.com, Stephanie Yancer recommends pulling together a small backpack that’s ready to go. She recommends: • Bottles for water • Snacks • First aid kit • Bug spray and sunscreen • Extra batteries (if you’re using a GPS receiver)

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Attend your brief virtual meeting for the chance to win big prizes!

2022 Virtual District Meetings:

AN EXCITING WAY TO ENGAGE WITH YOUR CO-OP If you attended your 2021 HomeWorks district meeting and enjoyed the virtual format, we’ve got great news for you! In response to our members, who expressed via surveys that they overwhelmingly prefer the online meeting format, we’re thrilled to announce that we’ll be hosting livestreamed virtual district meetings again this May. The meetings will give you and your neighbors the opportunity to learn more about the Co-op you own, all from the comfort of your own home! This spring’s virtual events will follow the same format as our 2021 district meetings, with lots of fresh content and exciting new highlights. Like last year, we’ll host an actual live virtual meeting in each of our seven districts, streamed to your device via the user-friendly Zoom Webinar digital platform. Members who don’t have internet accessibility will have the opportunity to call in and attend via phone.

invitation in the mail. The invitation will include your specific district meeting details, along with a registration link to RSVP to attend the virtual event. Once you RSVP, you’ll receive follow-up information with instructions on how to log on to Zoom Webinar the evening of your meeting. In addition to your formal mailed invitation, we’ll also be sending out email updates, as well as posting information on our HomeWorks Facebook page and on our district meeting page at HomeWorks.org. When Will The Meetings Take Place? Our 2022 district meeting dates will be as follows: • • • • • • •

District 1: Monday, May 9 District 2: Tuesday, May 10 District 3: Wednesday, May 18 District 4: Tuesday, May 17 District 5: Monday, May 16 District 6: Wednesday, May 11 District 7: Thursday, May 12

“Our members have spoken, and the majority of them have expressed to us that they prefer this virtual format for our district meetings,” says HomeWorks CEO Chris O’Neill. “It started out as a way to keep attendees safe during the pandemic, but what’s really exciting is that we’ve found that the virtual offering actually allows us to reach and engage with a wider swath of our membership, while still achieving all of our key meeting objectives. We’re really looking forward to meeting virtually with a large portion of our members again this spring.”

All meetings will take place from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Don’t worry if you don’t know which district you live in; your mailed invitation will include your district along with the date and time of your event. (You can also find this information on our district meeting page at HomeWorks.org.)

How Will The Livestreamed Virtual Format Work?

What Will My Meeting Entail?

In April, each HomeWorks member will receive a meeting 16 APRIL 2022

Your district meeting will be fast-paced and brief, but we’ll


“This is the most involved I have been in all my time as a HomeWorks member. What a great opportunity to reach more members!” ~ HomeWorks Member Bill G., Virtual District Meeting Attendee cover a lot of exciting ground. You’ll hear from your district’s elected representative on our board of directors, receive a Co-op update encompassing all we’ve been up to over the past year, learn about the progress of our HomeWorks Connect internet business, hear about our recent community outreach, and more. Why Should I Attend My District Meeting? Electric cooperatives are different from investor-owned utilities because we’re owned by you, our members. That means that you have a voice and a vote in our operations, so it’s beneficial for you to stay engaged with what we are doing on a regular basis. Plus, we’ve got a lot of great information planned to present to you, especially regarding our services that could improve your quality of life, including high-speed internet, propane, and energy efficiency rebates. Your meeting will be brief—less than an hour—and we think you’ll walk away with several key takeaways that will make you glad you attended.

2022 District Meeting Prizes: Three Ways To Win Big, Just For Attending! 1. Early Bird Door Prizes:

Just like at our traditional in-person district meetings, this year’s events will feature a live question-and-answer session. You’ll simply type your question into a chat box and our meeting moderator will pass it along to our CEO for his response.

In each district, the first 30 members (or more, depending on the size of your district) to register (and then attend) the meeting will receive a $25 HomeWorks bill credit!

I’m Not Tech-Savvy. Will I Have Trouble Attending?

2. Traditional Prize Raffles:

Will I Be Able To Ask Questions At My Virtual Meeting?

You don’t need to have any prior experience with virtual meetings to attend your 2022 district meeting. Each member will receive an invitation in the mail including very simple instructions explaining how to log on. A few clicks, and you’ll be in! A phone number will also be provided on the invitation for any member who does need assistance logging on. What If I Don’t Have A Good Internet Connection? Quality broadband service is not required to use Zoom Webinar; all you need is a smartphone with decent cellular service. Even a landline phone will suffice to dial in for audio only. For any member who does experience connection issues, the meetings will be recorded and posted on our website for viewing at a later date. Will There Be Prize Giveaways? This year’s virtual district meetings will feature prizes galore! See the sidebar to the right for information on all of the ways to win. Watch your mailbox and email inbox for more detailed information to come, or visit our district meeting page at HomeWorks.org.

We always close out our annual district meetings with prize drawings. This year will be no different, except that we’ll have even more prizes than ever before! Every member who attends will be entered for the chance to win prizes including a 55-inch smart TV, robot vacuums, smartwatches, $50 HomeWorks bill credits and more!

3. Interactive BINGO Game: Once you register to attend your virtual district meeting, you’ll receive a BINGO card via email with instructions on how to play along during your meeting. Fill out your card and turn it in for the chance to win one of three exciting grand prizes!

MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 17


2022

NO BARRIERS

ADVENTURES FOR RURAL VETERANS—APPLY BY MAY 13 IN-PERSON EXPEDITIONS WILL TAKE PLACE IN JULY AND AUGUST Michigan electric cooperatives believe there should be “No Barriers” for veterans with disabilities. That’s the name and idea behind CoBank’s No Barriers initiative. Michigan cooperatives are looking for qualified veterans* from our local community to participate. No Barriers is a five-day, all-expenses-paid expedition in Colorado, designed to help veterans with disabilities transform their lives through curriculum-based experiences in challenging environments (climbing, rafting, and hiking).

If you are a disabled veteran, or you know of a disabled veteran in our community who would like to participate in the No Barriers program, please complete the form on our website:

countrylines.com/nobarriers *Must have VA disability rating to be eligible.


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Save The Date For Your Virtual District Meeting!

2022 VIRTUAL DISTRICT MEETING DATES (All meetings will run from 6:30-7:30 p.m.)

• • • • • • •

District 1: Monday, May 9 District 2: Tuesday, May 10 District 3: Wednesday, May 18 District 4: Tuesday, May 17 District 5: Monday, May 16 District 6: Wednesday, May 11 District 7: Thursday, May 12

Attend For The Chance To Win Big Prizes!

Watch your mailbox for more details to come, including a registration link to attend your livestreamed virtual meeting!


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