Meet the team: Lauren Carman
Lauren Carman, Indiana Electric Cooperatives’ communication manager, has been with IEC for over two years and is vital to the magazine; one reason is that she sets deadlines for the year to keep us on track. Here’s more about her:
In my role, I get to do a little bit of everything, from content writing and planning to event coordination. Part of my role is supporting our member cooperatives. This might look like producing a communication campaign, teaching a photography class or supporting a co-op’s annual meeting. I also help come up with content ideas for Indiana Connection and serve as a magazine photographer when needed. I love helping our member co-ops and being connected with co-op employees all around the state!
Three facts about Lauren:
• My husband, Ryan, and I are expecting our first child in July — a baby girl! We’re excited for the new addition to our family, which also includes our toy Australian Shepherd, Maddie.
• My hometown is Graysville, Indiana, a small town near Sullivan. In 2013, Ryan and I moved to Houston, Texas, the fourth most populated city in the U.S. — very different than Graysville! We eventually moved back to Indiana and settled in Indianapolis. I enjoyed living in Texas but have determined that the Midwest is the best. Indianapolis is the perfect-sized city for me!
• I worked as a photographer for a Houston wedding photography company and photographed more than 200 weddings in two years. Now I love to photograph my friends and their kiddos!
Not only is Lauren amazing at her job, but she is also one of the nicest people you will ever meet.Stephanie
Win an Indiana-themed prize pack to celebrate Lauren’s love of the state!
On the menu: September: Crunchy recipes, deadline July 1. October: Pork recipes, deadline August 1. If we publish your recipe on our food pages, we’ll send you a $10 gift card.
Giveaway: Win an Indiana-themed prize pack (value $25) featuring a tea towel, magnet and cookie cutter! Visit indianaconnection.org/talk-to-us/contests or send your contact information to the address below. The deadline to enter is June 30.
Three ways to contact us: To send us recipes, photos, event listings, letters and entries for gift drawings, please use the forms on our website indianaconnection.org; email email@example.com; or send to Indiana Connection, 8888 Keystone Crossing, Suite 1600, Indianapolis, IN 46240-4606.
VOLUME 72 • NUMBER 12
ISSN 0745-4651 • USPS 262-340
Published monthly by Indiana Electric Cooperatives
Indiana Connection is for and about members of Indiana’s locally-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives. It helps consumers use electricity safely and efficiently; understand energy issues; connect with their co-op; and celebrate life in Indiana. Over 311,000 residents and businesses receive the magazine as part of their electric co-op membership. Member’s cost per issue is approximately 32 cents, plus postage.
8888 Keystone Crossing, Suite 1600 Indianapolis, IN 46240-4606 317-487-2220
INDIANA ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES OFFICERS:
Randy Kleaving President
Steve McMichael Vice President
Dr. Richard Leeper Secretary/Treasurer
John Cassady CEO
Stephanie Groves Editor
Richard George Biever Senior Editor
Holly Huffman Communication Support Specialist
Lauren Carman Communication Manager
Kiley Lipps Graphic Designer
Ashley Curry Production and Design Coordinator
Amber Knight Creative Manager
Mandy Barth Vice President of Communication
American MainStreet Publications
Cheryl Solomon, local ad representative; 512-441-5200; amp.coop
Crosshair Media 502-216-8537; crosshairmedia.net
Paid advertisements are not endorsements by any electric cooperative or this publication.
Indiana Connection does not use unsolicited freelance manuscripts or photographs and assumes no responsibility for the safekeeping or return of unsolicited material.
$12 for individuals not subscribing through participating REMCs/RECs.
CHANGE OF ADDRESS:
If you receive Indiana Connection through your electric co-op membership, report address changes to your local co-op.
Periodicals postage paid at Indianapolis, Indiana, and at additional mailing offices.
Send change of address to: Indiana Connection, 8888 Keystone Crossing, Suite 1600, Indianapolis, IN 46240-4606. Include key number.
No portion of Indiana Connection may be reproduced without permission of the editor.
CONTACT US 812-689-4111
7:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Monday–Friday
712 South Buckeye Street Osgood, IN 47037
MAILING ADDRESS P.O. Box 196 Osgood, IN 47037
To report a power outage: 800-737-4111 or SmartHub
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Mike Thieman (District 6), President
Melissa Menchhofer (District 5), Vice President
Jesse McClure (District 4), Secretary
Vince Moster (District 1), Treasurer
Brad Bentle (District 2)
David Smith (District 3)
Darrell Smith (District 7)
Bonnie Boggs (District 8)
Casey Menchhofer (District 9)
SEI REMC launches new podcast
Southeastern Indiana REMC is pleased to announce the launch of our new podcast, “The REMC Connection”! As a member-owned cooperative, we're looking forward to telling the stories of our members, shining a light on the wonderful things they are doing in our communities, and finding new ways to connect.
“The REMC Connection” is a monthly podcast that will feature a variety of topics related to the Operation Round Up grant program. Our host will sit down with grant recipients to talk about the programs and projects that have been funded through the years.
Listeners can expect each episode to be around 30 minutes long and
available on all major podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts. We encourage members to subscribe to “The REMC Connection” and share it with their friends and family.
The Operation Round Up grant program would not be possible without the generous support of members who round their bills up to the nearest whole dollar each month to fund the program. We're excited to add “The REMC Connection” to our lineup of member-focused initiatives and can't wait to share our first episode with you on June 26!
To safely provide reliable electricity and diversified services to the members and communities we serve.
Looking for additional ways to save energy this summer? Wash clothes with cold water, which can cut one load’s energy use by more than half. Your washing machine will use the same amount of energy no matter the size of the clothes load, so fill it up when you can. Loads will dry faster and more evenly if you separate heavier cottons like linens and towels from your lightweight clothing.
HOW VEGETATION MANAGEMENT AFFECTS RELIABILITY
Providing reliable power to our memberconsumers is a top priority for SEI REMC. As we approach the summer storm season, it is crucial to understand how vegetation management plays a significant role in maintaining reliability.
While trees contribute to the charm, shade and beauty of our communities, they are also the primary cause of power outages for our cooperative. That is why we are dedicated to keeping the co-op’s power lines clear in right-ofway (ROW) areas.
ROW areas encompass the land utilized by the co-op for constructing, maintaining, replacing or repairing underground and overhead power lines. This proactive approach enables SEI REMC to maintain clearance from trees and other obstructions that could potentially hinder distribution power lines.
STRATEGIC INITIATIVE TO ENHANCE RELIABILITY
In 2018, our board of directors initiated a strategic plan to improve reliability by reclaiming the ROW across our seven-county service area within a five-year timespan. We successfully met this objective and have now progressed to the second phase of the initiative, which focuses on ongoing maintenance. Our teams are proactively working their way through the service territory, implementing a comprehensive trimming and pruning program to ensure the lines remain clear on a consistent five-year cycle.
PLANNED OUTAGES FOR ENHANCED RELIABILITY
While it may seem counterintuitive, we also utilize planned and controlled outages to enhance power reliability. By carefully cutting power to specific areas of our local service area for a few hours, SEI REMC can perform necessary system repairs and upgrades that ultimately lead to improved electric service. We strive to provide advance notice of any planned outage through email or text notifications, ensuring you have the latest information. To receive these updates, please make sure we have your correct contact information on file.
VEGETATION MANAGEMENT: THE KEY TO RELIABLE POWER
Vegetation management serves as an essential tool in ensuring power reliability and minimizing the risk of outages. Therefore, when you see our dedicated crews working in your area, we kindly ask for your patience, knowing that the work they are performing is crucial to maintaining the reliability of your electric service.
At SEI REMC, our commitment to delivering reliable power is unwavering. Through our strategic vegetation management initiatives, ongoing maintenance efforts and carefully planned outages, we strive to provide you with uninterrupted electric service. By working together and understanding the significance of vegetation management, we can build a more reliable and resilient power infrastructure for our community.
Feeling the heat? Here’s how to use energy wisely
Now is the perfect time to make a few changes around the house to help keep you cool and lower your energy bill.
Replace your air filters once a month during the summer. When air conditioner filters get dirty, they can get clogged, and the air can’t flow freely through them. This forces your air conditioning system to work harder, which increases your electricity bill.
Move appliances and lamps away from your thermostat. Because they emit heat, they can trick your thermostat into thinking that the house is warmer than it really is.
Run your washing machine and pool pump after dark. It costs the most to use electricity when everyone else is using it, and in most areas, that is after work through dinnertime.
Consider switching to LED light fixtures. LED bulbs are more energy efficient than traditional lightbulbs. Also, incandescent bulbs produce more heat than light, and that can compete with the job your air conditioning system is trying to do when it’s warm outside.
Install a programmable thermostat. It can automatically adjust the temperature of your home so you use less energy to cool your space when no one is there. The device can help you save up to $100 a year on cooling (and heating) bills.
Ahome upgrade that lowers the cost to heat your water may also help you save on your taxes next year.
The Inflation Reduction Act, passed by Congress last year, includes incentives for homeowners to make qualifying energy efficiency upgrades. The act includes a tax credit to upgrade to a heat pump water heater (HPWH), and according to the ENERGY STAR® website (energystar.gov), the tax credit can be up to 30% of the project cost with a $2,000 maximum credit amount. Heat pump water heaters that have earned the ENERGY STAR are eligible for the credit.
Heat pump water heaters are two to three times as efficient as conventional electric resistance water heaters, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. HPWHs use refrigerant to move heat from the surrounding air to the water within the tank. This improves efficiency and costs you less to produce hot water. Using less energy also helps reduce carbon emissions, benefiting the environment.
HEAT PUMPS CAN HELP COOL AND DEHUMIDIFY THE SURROUNDING SPACE IN THE SUMMER.
During the summer months, the heat pump will draw heat from nearby air to help warm the water. This can help lower the temperature in the surrounding area, making the space more comfortable. They also dehumidify the air! If you are already running a dehumidifier in the basement, an HPWH can do that job while heating your water.
an HPWH is installed can impact its overall performance. ENERGY STAR recommends installing HPWHs in unconditioned or semi-conditioned interior spaces where temperatures remain above 50 degrees Fahrenheit for most of the year. ENERGY STAR also recommends avoiding placing the HPWH in garages or outdoors where it can be consistently subjected to freezing temperatures.
$400 annually in energy costs for a family of four. Your local electric cooperative may even offer rebates for qualifying HPWHs. You may also be eligible for the federal tax credit, though that may depend on your total tax liability. Contact your tax advisor for details and to determine eligibility for the full available tax credit.
If your water heater is close to 10 years old (or older), you should start considering a replacement. A variety of options exist, including heat pump water heaters, to improve your home’s energy use. Contact your local electric cooperative’s energy advisor to discuss options.
FORGET POTENTIAL REBATES.
An ENERGY STARcertified HPWH can save more thanby Joe Spear Energy Advisor Carroll White REMC
Tax changes can make the upgrade to a heat pump water heater more affordable
Ready to go on a little getaway? You don’t need to travel far — just visit RiverWatch Floating Restaurant in Lawrenceburg. According to its website, the family-friendly, Key West-themed eatery aims to deliver “an island ambiance and a beautiful view of the Ohio River while you eat delicious food and sip on frosty drinks.”
Family-owned and operated, RiverWatch is helmed by “Captain Mike” Rauen and his “First Mate” Darcy. The restaurant offers a variety of seafood dishes such as crab cakes, coconut shrimp and their ever-popular blackened mahi mahi. If seafood doesn’t float your boat, RiverWatch serves a custom-blended hamburger made from short rib and brisket, as well as a pork ribeye and a variety of sandwiches.
While you dine, you can relax and take in the surrounding views — the restaurant is indeed actually floating in the Ohio River, although securely docked — and soak in the island-inspired décor and music.
If you’re in the mood for a cocktail, First Mate Darcy’s signature libations include the “Sombrero Beach Shark Bite”
made with peach schnapps, Absolut Citron, blue curacao, Sprite and grenadine, and “Caribbean Rum Punch” spiked with Don Q rum.
Don’t set sail home without dessert! The “After Deck Delicacies” include a perfectly tart key lime pie (another nod to Florida) and chocolate-dipped cheesecake on a stick.
No matter what you choose to eat or drink, you will be treated to top-tier hospitality. As Captain Mike put it, “We welcome you to dine with us on Key West time and may the tide always pull you back!”
RiverWatch is open seasonally, typically from April to October, and you can visit the restaurant’s website at Riverwatchinc.com for updates and more information.
FOR THE 2024 COOPERATIVE CALENDAR OF STUDENT ART
Twenty-five student artists were selected as first-place and honorable mention winners in the annual art contest sponsored by Indiana’s electric cooperatives. Their artworks will illustrate the cover and inside pages of the 2024 edition of the Cooperative Calendar of Student Art.
The calendar will be printed this fall and will be distributed statewide by participating electric cooperatives and by Indiana Connection.
Justine Ocken, a junior at Whitko High School in South Whitley, not only won her grade division, but her drawing of a horse, its rider and a dog wading in an autumn stream won the Best of Show. Plus, for only the third time in the contest’s history, judges awarded the same student both first place and an honorable mention. Ocken’s second work featured a kitchen in the middle of a Thanksgiving meal preparation.
Students who enter the art contest are asked to create artwork that illustrates the month that corresponds numerically with their grade at the time they enter the contest — but kindergartners have carte blanche when creating artwork for the calendar’s cover. The contest began in 1998 to recognize and encourage student artists, and in the 26 years since, almost 99,000 pieces of art have been created and entered.
To view the winning artworks, visit IndianaConnection.org and follow the links.
Our Marketplace offers maximum exposure for your business or organization at a minimal cost.
Please contact Cheryl Solomon, 847-749-4875 or firstname.lastname@example.org, for other small business advertising opportunities in Indiana Connection.
GRADE DIVISION WINNERS
• Kindergarten —
Serenity White, Medora
• First Grade —
Hadley Wagner, Jasper
• Second Grade —
Rayna Pryor, Flora
• Third Grade —
Trinity Messmer, Jasper
• Fourth Grade —
Flynn Cissell, Borden
• Fifth Grade —
Kaylin Fuller, Charlestown
• Sixth Grade —
Chloe Holtke, Seymour
• Seventh Grade —
Nandini Kondhare, Columbus
• Eighth Grade —
Jenna Merli, Union Mills
• Ninth Grade —
Cate Deckena, South Whitley
• 10th Grade —
Riley Aebersold, New Albany
• 11th Grade —
Justine Ocken, South Whitley
• 12th Grade —
Lindsey Todd, Craigville
• Best of Show —
Justine Ocken, South Whitley
HONORABLE MENTION WINNERS
• Kindergarten —
Benton Welp, Jasper
• First Grade —
Kinze Campbell, Union Mills
• Second Grade —
Arabella White, Medora
• Third Grade —
Naiya Hood, Brazil
• Fourth Grade —
Lily Fouts, Seymour
• Fifth Grade —
Dakota Moon, Brazil
• Sixth Grade —
McKenzie Haehl, Shelbyville
• Seventh Grade —
Kyla Krouse, Fort Wayne
• Eighth Grade —
Viola Reeves, Monrovia
• Ninth Grade —
Makenna Krause, South Whitley
• 10th Grade —
Taylor Patton, Paoli
• 11th Grade —
Justine Ocken, South Whitley
• 12th Grade —
Elizabeth Mattos, Kendallville
Camping gets us into the great outdoors and lets us leave civilization behind. Yet, for personal preferences or medical reasons, many of us still want or need the modern conveniences or necessities that electricity provides.
Fortunately, most popular campgrounds have electricity at individual sites. For “off-grid” camping, generators and solar panels are becoming more portable.
“Even when we’re trying to get away from it all,” said Jon Elkins, vice president of safety, training and compliance at Indiana Electric Cooperatives, “most of us want at least a small refrigerator or an air mattress inflator, or our CPAP so we’re not keeping the entire campground awake with our snoring. Those things need electricity, and using electricity anywhere requires the same mindfulness as when we’re at home.”
Here are some things campers should keep in mind:
Before you go
Make sure a fire extinguisher is included with your gear. A general ABC fire extinguisher will cover ordinary combustibles, like wood and grass, and
fires involving electrical current. Make sure the extension cord you plan to run from the hookup to your tent is heavy enough to handle the load you intend to plug into it. It should have three prongs and a built-in ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) as an added safety measure.
Be aware and observant
Once you arrive at your campsite, inspect the electrical hookup for any damage. For tent camping, a 30-amp hookup is probably the most you’ll need, and it should have a GFCI installed. Make sure the extension cord to your tent doesn’t create a trip hazard. Also, keep it away from the campfire, the drive lane and water.
Recreational vehicle (RV) hookups may have a 50-amp outlet designed for larger RVs. If you need an extension cord, make sure it is rated the same or higher than the supply cord plugged into the hookup. Using an insufficient size can underpower devices or overheat wires. Always use a quality RV surge protector between the hookup and your RV.
Don’t be a statistic
According to the Centers for Disease Control, every year around 400 to 500 people die in tents and campers from carbon monoxide poisoning. Culprits are generally heaters that malfunction in RVs or fossil-fueled electrical generators. Make sure your RV is equipped with fire and carbon monoxide detectors.
Off-grid camping is becoming more popular, and portable generators make it easier. Be sure to choose portable generators with automatic carbon monoxide shutoff systems. Keep the generator outside and as far away from doors and openings as possible. Always position the generator so fumes are pointed away and downwind from your RV, tent and people. Be aware of any neighbors and keep fumes pointed away from them, too.
“Ticks, mosquitoes, poison ivy and scratches might come with camping. But so do fireflies and starry night skies,” Elkins said. “Having electricity when we camp has many benefits — we just have to keep in mind safety, too.”
DON’T BE TOO ‘SOCIAL’ ABOUT YOUR VACATION
Whether you vacation at a national park or seaside resort, traveling can be very exciting. Most people love posting travel photos and selfies on social media, but letting the whole world know you’re on vacation can make your home a prime target for a break-in.
It’s a good idea to refrain from posting about your trip until after you return — those photos of you at the Grand Canyon can wait a few days before you show them to the world.
camping means keeping electrical safety in mind
White County COUNTY FACTS
White County has arguably had its landscape and culture affected by renewable energy sources more than any other Indiana county.
Founded in 1834, the county was named for Isaac White, a colonel in the Illinois militia. White volunteered to serve as a private in the Indiana militia in Gov. William Henry Harrison’s march on Prophetstown. He was killed at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811 and was buried in a common grave at what is now Battle Ground.
Travelers driving on Interstate 65 between Indianapolis and Chicago can’t miss their arrival into White County. They’re greeted by 400-foot-tall wind turbines from the Meadow Lake Wind Farm which covers areas of White, Jasper and Benton counties. The farm was developed in multiple phases beginning in 2009.
In 2018, an addition to the farm began providing power to Indiana’s electric cooperatives through their two cooperative power suppliers, Wabash Valley Power Alliance and Hoosier Energy. It was the first mix of large-scale wind power generated in Indiana that was used by electric cooperative consumers.
TIPPECANOE AND HYDROPOWER, TOO
Just north and south of Monticello, two early hydroelectric dams were built on the Tippecanoe River as it winds its way south to the Wabash River. Along with generating electricity, the dams, one of which celebrates its 100th birthday this month, created the “Twin Lakes.”
The northernmost, Norway Dam, completed in June 1923, created Lake Shafer. Oakdale Dam was built in 1925 to create Lake Freeman. These two meandering lakes established White County as a major tourism destination. Owned and operated by NIPSCO, the dams still produce electricity for the grid.
Indiana Beach is an amusement park located on Lake Shafer. It offers over 50 rides and attractions including roller coasters and a water park. Convenient cabins, a campground and hotel rooms are also available.
Originally named Ideal Beach, the amusement park first opened in 1927 on the shore of Lake Shafer, not long after the lake’s creation.
NAMED FOR: Isaac White
COUNTY SEAT: Monticello
INDIANA COUNTY NUMBER: 91
FULL OF FLAVOR AND NOSTALGIC CHARM
EASY KEY LIME PIE Bethany Edwards, Berne, Indiana
1 (.6-ounce) box of Sugar-Free Lime Jell-O (Sugar-Free Jell-O is the key to having the pie set up properly)
¼ cup boiling water
2 (6-ounce) containers of key lime-flavored yogurt
1 (8-ounce) container of whipped topping (such as Cool Whip), thawed
1 premade graham cracker pie crust
In a large bowl, carefully stir the Jell-O powder into the boiling water and stir to dissolve. Stir inFOOD PREPARED BY STEPHANIE GROVES AND BARBARA BUTZ PHOTOS BY KILEY LIPPS
Marilles Mauer, Greensburg, Indiana
1 (3-ounce) box of Jell-O, in your preferred flavor
4 cups water
⅓ cup sugar (optional)
Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine cake mix, eggs, 1 cup of water and vegetable oil in a mixing bowl. Stir to blend, then beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour mixture into a greased, 9-by-13inch pan. Bake for approximately 30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Cool in pan for 15 minutes. In a medium bowl, dissolve Jell-O in the hot water and then add in the cold water. Poke large holes all over the top of the cake with the handle of a wooden spoon or a fork. Slowly pour the Jell-O mixture over the cake. Chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours, then spread the whipped topping over the serve.
BIRDS RareBY RICHARD G. BIEVER
Cross said she’d never seen anything quite like it.
She may have been talking about the little black and orange bird that showed up at her backyard feeders for a few days in April. She used the bird-identification app Merlin to learn it was a black-headed grosbeak.
But the spectacle for her really was the anxious brood of birders who quickly flocked to her suburban Greenfield neighborhood to catch a glimpse and record images of the strange bird.
“I had no clue it was a rare bird until I posted it out on Facebook, and people started contacting me to come over to see it,” she said. “They sent me a screenshot of a map showing the normal range of the bird, and I’m like, ‘Oooh-oo-kay, come on over.’”
The normal range of the blackheaded grosbeak is from the central Plains and Rocky Mountains west to the Pacific Ocean. This was only the second recorded sighting ever of one in Indiana.
“A couple of guys reached out to me almost immediately,” Janet, 60, continued, joined by her husband, Doug, 65. “It just took us a little while to understand the magnitude because it was so unique and so new to us. I was like, ‘What do you mean people are going to come stand in
my backyard?’ It was a little nervewracking to begin with.”
A flutter of photographers arrived that Saturday afternoon. The couple let it be known that for a few hours the next day, too, their spacious backyard, with its budding and blooming trees backed by a creek, would also be open for those wanting to come and see the vagrant bird. Some 50 avid “birders” — photographers and watchers — came with their binoculars, spotting scopes and yard-long giant camera lenses, on the blustery and wet Sunday afternoon. Some came from the farthest corners of the state, Evansville and Valparaiso, to check out the bird the Crosses had dubbed “Rocky.”
“Everybody we encountered was going out of their way to be polite. I was very impressed,” added Doug. “They are very passionate about what they do. There’s no question about that.”
A day later, the grosbeak was gone … perhaps heading back to the West.
BIRDS OF A FEATHER
One of the photographers who arrived that Sunday and stayed late, talking birds with the Crosses, was Ryan Sanderson. For Sanderson, the sudden weekend gathering of birders
wasn’t out of the ordinary. Capturing photos of rare birds has been an obsession of his for almost 20 years. Sanderson, 37, is currently chair of the Indiana Bird Records Committee, a committee within the Indiana Audubon Society. Its main goal is to maintain a list of all the bird species seen within the state.
The Indiana Audubon celebrates its 125th anniversary in 2023. It is the oldest conservation organization continuously operating in Indiana and the fourth oldest “Audubon” in the country. Founded in 1898, the organization continues its goals of research, conservation and education of the natural resources and the birds Hoosiers love. Keeping track of bird sightings is part of the research and conservation. Plus, it builds camaraderie and competition among birders to see who can spot the most.
Sanderson said a goal within the birding community is to spur interest in nature by exposing others to the diverse beauty of birds. Marty Jones, 58, concurs. “That’s one reason I take photos,” Jones said. “I want other people to see what I’ve seen and hopefully appreciate birds more and help protect them and their habitats.”
Jones came over from Terre Haute that Sunday afternoon to join Sanderson and the bevy of other
birders. He’s active in his local Audubon and land conservancy group.
Bird watching is among the most popular hobbies in the United States, Sanderson noted. But, when it comes to bird lovers, bird photographers like Sanderson and Jones take it to another level. Sanderson said he probably has a million bird photos on his computer hard drives at home. Jones has 5,000 bird photos posted just on SmugMug, an online image hosting and sharing platform.
There are photographers who just want to get a documentation photo of every bird they see and aren’t concerned as much about aesthetics. “Then, there are those,” said Sanderson, “and I’d probably put myself in the realm, who want to get the best picture of every bird species they see. I want to get artistic photos.”
Jones and Sanderson are much the same. When they find the rare bird they are after, they’ll both shoot initial photos just to document that they have it in case it flies away. Then, they’ll keep working for better lighting, a better background or some action the bird will do.
Among birders, there are varying degrees of mania. Some are “listers”
whose main goal is to list as many species as they can say they’ve seen in a defined area, whether it’s their yard, county or state. But then, Sanderson pointed out, people can get really into lists — like a “carbon neutral” list of how many birds they see by just walking or cycling. “It can get really intense, but most people that are into it have a life list of everything they’ve ever seen, and then often a state list.”
BIRDING TAKES WING
Sanderson, a physician practicing family medicine in northern Johnson County, became interested in birds in the mid-2000s as a college student. He had gotten into art photography in high school and already had a love of nature. But birds didn’t begin entering his picture frames until he took a course on Indiana natural history the spring of his freshman year in 2005. “We went around the state looking at various rock formations and forests,” he noted. “The professor was really into birding. So, we ended up looking at birds through most of the course.”
The next fall, he took a course in ornithology. And then his interest took wing.
At about this time, digital cameras
began making a splash on the market. Sanderson sold a saxophone he bought in high school on eBay to help finance his first digital camera — a Canon Rebel. Digital cameras made all the difference since he was no longer confined to 36 images per roll of film and the cost of purchasing and developing film. As digital technology advanced, so did his interest and the number of photos he shot.
Sanderson admits he’s always had kind of an obsessive-compulsive personality, even as a tot. “When I was 4 or 5 years old, I was really into tractors. And then it was frogs for a couple of years. Then I got into snakes.” But birds captivated him. He said he’s asked himself many times, “Why am I so into this? These are just birds. Why is it interesting to me?”
The answer partly seems to be his nature; they appeal to his intellect and analytical mind — which is what also led him to medicine. “Medicine and birding are somewhat similar,” he explained. If a patient comes in with an illness, he pores over their symptoms and complaints to make a diagnosis. If there’s a bird he doesn’t recognize, he can go down a list of physical features, size, colors, patterns and sounds to come up with an identification.
But both his artistic and perfectionist sides have kept him coming back. “I think I can always get a better photo of something. So, it’s always, ‘How can I improve that? How can I do better with this?’”
Plus, advancing digital technology creates a never-ending spiral of improvement. “Maybe I took a fantastic photo eight years ago, but I was using an eight-megapixel camera. So, I really can’t enlarge it. But now I can do cooler stuff. I can blow up the pictures of the head and get some really cool feather details, where before there wasn’t the resolution for that.
“And you just never know what you’re going see,” he continued. “It’s kind of like a new discovery every day when you go out and see warblers. In Indiana, you can see 36-37 warbler species in May. You never know what’s going to show up.”
To make sure he doesn’t miss any rare bird sightings, Sanderson is plugged into a variety of social media and notification methods — Facebook, rare-bird alerts, text messages and the like. These instant notifications of sightings birders share with each other have made it easier to go after the rare birds, but also can create a dilemma for Sanderson that pits his passion against his profession. “I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gotten an alert, a text message or a Facebook notice that says any number of rare birds have showed up. And so, you’re sitting at work, and it’s like ‘Holy crap, I gotta go see this!’ It’s crazy.”
But that’s when the professional side intervenes. “I’ve made a rule for myself that I will not cancel patients or days at work to go see
stuff. I’ve rearranged stuff before, but never have I canceled somebody because I needed to see something. My professional duties to my patients outweigh that.”
Being a tad obsessive, Sanderson is also a bit of a perfectionist — always working hard to be the best at what he does. That includes his bird photography. And while we all carry a little camera with us in our phone these days, Sanderson’s amazing photos don’t simply drop onto his memory card because of the long lenses, kayak and other equipment he has at his command. “I might have been in the field for 12 to 20 hours trying to get that particular picture, so it’s not quite ‘He had a good camera.’ There’s a lot of time and knowledge that’s coming into play to get the consistently good photos of those things. And for the majority of these birds, you can’t just walk up on them because they fly away.”Ryan Sanderson Photo by Richard Biever
‘GOD MOMENTS’ WITH THE BIRDS
Marty Jones knows all about the long hours. With the black-headed grosbeak, Jones recorded his 348th species of bird in Indiana. While the last one came during the open house in the Crosses’ backyard, you don’t get that many without putting in work. His images are on his appropriately named page: IndianaJones.smugmug.com.
Instead of rare treasures of antiquity, this “Indiana Jones” searches for the rare birds of Indiana still around us. But just like the Jones of the movie series, his adventures can be long, treacherous and hard.
One of his favorite excursions included Sanderson and a few other birders. A ruffed grouse, once common to Indiana but now almost extirpated, was spotted in the Hoosier National Forest. “We took a long hike into the forest,” Jones recalled. “With the camera gear that’s pretty heavy and the rough terrain, it wasn’t easy.”
When they’d gone well over a mile into the middle of the woods, Jones said they started wondering how they would ever find it. Suddenly, one of the others said, “There it is!”
“I’m just trying to get a documentation photo, that’s what I always do when I
first see a rare bird,” Jones said. “I get what I can and hope to get a better picture later. And I’m not kidding, that bird was like a chicken. It walked up to us and posed, jumping up on a log.”
The bird got so close, the photographers with their long, fixed lenses attached to their cameras actually had to back up to focus. “We all got awesome photos,” Jones said.
Like Sanderson, Jones, a senior regulatory consultant with Indiana Electric Cooperatives, always had an interest in the outdoors and photography and got into birding in the mid-2000s. And like Sanderson, Jones sold a first love — in his case, a hot rod — to purchase his first long birding lens.
Jones said in the early 2000s, he was spending a lot more time on the road with his job at IEC. “Back then, our department was much smaller. We traveled a lot more all over the state. And so, I would take my camera out on the evenings before going back to the hotel,” he said.
One evening toward dusk in late November or early December, he ended up at the Jasper-Pulaski Wildlife Refuge after spending the day at a nearby REMC.
“That’s when thousands upon thousands, sometimes as many
as 30,000 or more, sandhill cranes congregate in this little area in front of a specially constructed observation deck. They’re heading south from Canada, upper Wisconsin, and Minnesota. That was just what I call a ‘God moment,’” he recalled.
“There were probably 100, maybe up to 300, people there, and I was the last to leave,” he added, noting he was shooting photos the whole time. Not long after, digital cameras came along. And like Sanderson, Jones found them to be a salvation for bird photography. “Digital was just awesome. When you do bird photography, it’s not uncommon to take 1,000 images pretty quickly.”
Through his previous travels with IEC, Jones became a collector of photos. He’d photographed all of Indiana’s courthouses. He’d photographed all the state’s covered bridges. Now, he set his goal to photograph every bird species in the state. “I was thinking this would just be a few months, maybe a year, and I’d move on to something else. Well, here I am … almost 20 years later.”
Unlike Indiana’s courthouses and covered bridges that have a finite number with easy-to-locate coordinates, photographing every bird species was a moving target — in more ways than one. There’s no definite number of species of birds — it can range from 380 or more depending on the season and migrations. Plus, occasionally wildcard vagrants fly in, like the blackheaded grosbeak or a limpkin, to upset the aviary cart. And, of course, birds are much harder to photograph than stationary objects.
A limpkin, a tall long-legged marsh bird, was spotted along Monroe Lake in Monroe and Brown counties last June. It created quite a stir — being the first one ever spotted in Indiana. The bird’s normal northernmost territory is the Florida-Georgia line. Jones and Sanderson both were able
to get photos of it as photographers descended on the lake.
For Jones, that was a kayak adventure that went from a hot humid mid-afternoon to almost sundown. Just as he was about to call it quits so he could get back to his car before dark, he decided to turn down one more marshy byway. “And I’m glad I did because there it was in perfect light. It’s one of those birds that are spooked easily, but this one, I practically paddled right up to it.”
He said he follows his customary “shoot, shoot, shoot” to get what he can in case it flies off. “Then, after I get my shot, I just try to enjoy the view and appreciate what I’m seeing.”
‘WRONG TURN AT ALBUQUERQUE’
Though the black-headed grosbeak departed without even a fare-theewell to Doug and Janet Cross, the Greenfield couple wasn’t left emptyhanded from their brief encounter with Indiana birding history.
Birders brought bottles of wine, bags of birdseed and a bag of corn and a mineral block for the deer that pass through the yard. Jones provided Janet and Doug a close-up print of their famed visitor. “I’m looking forward to putting it up and having conversations about it when we have guests over,” Janet said. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime memory we’ll have forever.”
She and Doug doubt Rocky will be back.
“We got our 15 minutes,” Doug said, waxing on the vagaries of the bird’s short sojourn in their backyard. “As he made his way north from Mexico, he took a wrong turn at Albuquerque and got lost. It happens in nature.”
Janet said the experience won’t be turning her and Doug into the birders that go in search of rare birds. “We just enjoy listening to them and watching them out our back door.” But, they will stay active with the Greenfield birders Facebook group where she first posted her discovery
of the grosbeak. “Everybody’s always posting pictures,” Janet said. “When the first hummingbird of the season shows up, we’ll take a picture and post it there, so everybody knows that the hummingbirds are here.” When bluebirds are around, photos get posted so followers know to put out the feed they prefer. “It just keeps everybody aware of what’s going on in the community.”
And the next time a strange bird appears, she said she’ll photograph it and post it, and say, “OK, here’s a new bird for me!” She said the response from fellow birders like Sanderson and Jones might be a hohum, “OK, … that’s this type of bird. It’s a common bird.” Or, their reaction just might be, as she paused for a moment and then mused excitedly, “We’ll be back!’”
A FAMILY OF COOPERATION
Erica Worland acknowledges the role of family in achieving the career success she’s had working for electric cooperatives. But that family is not just blood, it’s extended through her community and among the cooperatives themselves.
Worland just completed her first year as the director of finance and accounting for Daviess-Martin County REMC in Loogootee. There, she sits beside the CEO, presents to the board of directors each month and oversees a staff of six individuals. She’s come a long way in a relatively short time.
Behind her was her mom — who taught her not to give up in pursuing her dreams; her first boss, who was both a mentor and a modeler of hard work; a close family friend who worked for a neighboring REMC who encouraged her to join the electric cooperative world and in whose footsteps she followed; and her late supervisor at WIN Energy REMC who hired her out of college and strongly encouraged her to continue her education and take every opportunity the cooperative offered.
“These amazing role models in my life have shaped me into the person I am today,” said Worland.
Worland came out of Indiana State University with a business administration degree in 2008. Encouraged by that long-time family friend from Parke County REMC, she applied for a
member service representative position at WIN Energy REMC. She admitted it was to get her foot in the door because she had heard such good things about working there.
Though she wasn’t well versed in the workings of a consumer-owned, notfor-profit electric utility, she was quickly exposed to the diverse roles at every co-op — including the linework. “We got to go out in the field to a substation and see what it takes to set and work on a pole. We got to experience what it’s like for the linemen, and so it put it all into perspective.”
Within just a couple of years, she moved into accounting at WIN Energy and was encouraged to pursue professional leadership courses and additional accounting certifications. Through the employee development opportunities WIN Energy offered, Worland honed her skills in public speaking and gained confidence to tackle new challenges. After WIN Energy promoted her to accountant in 2019, she pursued and earned a Master of Business Administration in 2020.
While she said she loved working at WIN Energy and the friendships she had developed, a new opportunity soon opened at a neighboring cooperative.
Daviess-Martin County REMC was seeking a new director of finance and accounting, a position that reported directly to the CEO. It was quite a step up. “There was a lot more responsibility,” Worland said. “It’s always kind of scary — and exciting — when you start something new. Stepping out, there are challenges. Then, being able to overcome those has really been exciting and builds confidence.”
Her past electric cooperative experiences in member service and leadership are all coming into play in her new position. She has to be able to speak to the lineworkers, the inside office staff, the directors and the public.
“I am very appreciative to WIN Energy REMC for the experience I gained there, and grateful to Daviess-Martin County REMC for the amazing opportunity to advance in my career.”
HOOSIER ENERGY’S 2023 Annual Meeting recap
The utility industry and the issues impacting it are ever evolving, and as of late, ever more complicated.
Hoosier Energy fittingly used the theme of “Complex Issues. Cooperative Solutions.” for its 2023 annual meeting in April.
With all 18 member cooperatives represented, though some less so due to recent storms at the time, a variety of speakers and panelists addressed that theme, including Hoosier Energy President and CEO Donna Walker.
“The energy sector has definitely undergone a fundamental change in the last few years, and we feel it and have been talking about it, especially just in the last year since we were together,” Walker said.
Her opening remarks came on the heels of the meeting’s formal business, capped by recognition of outgoing Board of Directors Chairman Bob Stroup of RushShelby Energy, who celebrated 30 years as a Hoosier Energy director this year.
New officers elected to the board were Chairman Gary Waninger of Southern Indiana Power, Vice Chairman David Smith of Southeastern Indiana REMC, Secretary Jodie Creek of Whitewater Valley REMC
and Treasurer John Edwards of Daviess-Martin County REMC.
Following Walker was the day’s first guest speaker, CoBank President and CEO Tom Halverson. The topic he spoke about was “Demography and Destiny: Population Trends in Rural America.” Halverson presented “nerdy but necessary graphs and data” to make the case for an increased opportunity to see real population growth in rural America with significant potential benefits.
A panel of Hoosier Energy executive staff then offered cooperative solutions to various questions addressing affordability, reliability, sustainability and finances among other topics relevant to the assembled members.
The day continued with a panel consisting of NRECA VP of Legislative Affairs Hill Thomas,
Indiana Electric Cooperatives CEO John Cassady and Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives President and CEO Craig Sondgeroth. The trio discussed the action and inaction going on in Washington, D.C., Indianapolis and Springfield, as well as how coops can do their part to have a seat at the table in all three locations.
Molly McPherson of Indestructible PR concluded things with her session on “Communicating Complexity and Cooperation in a Rapidly Changing Energy Environment.”
McPherson addressed how complex issues were often weaponized against cooperatives from the outside while also noting the importance of establishing the right culture inside a cooperative to be able to withstand the misinformation that can be spread in communities.
SMART WAYS TO ‘TRIM’ DIY COSTS AND ADD STYLE
You don’t have to settle for builders’ grade basics in your home, even on a tight budget. Whether you’re selling or just want some extra personal flair, these simple DIY projects can make a big impact on your kitchen, bathroom and bedroom.
ALL THE TRIMMINGS
Believe it or not, simple trim can really enhance the style of a room or fixture. Trim is inexpensive, widely available and can easily be cut to the lengths you need. Molding comes in lots of interesting styles and patterns, too. Paint small pieces of trim and adhere them as a frame around the sides of your switch plate covers to add interest. An even easier hack: Buy a small picture frame in the same size and color as the cover, then attach it to the wall with an all-purpose adhesive.
If replacing a plain, straight-edged bathroom mirror (especially one adhered to the drywall) is too much to tackle, apply painted or stained accent molding around its perimeter for a more custom look. Take this idea up to the ceiling by creating a square frame around the base of a ceiling fan. Amp it up by painting the area inside the frame a color that contrasts against the ceiling fan. While you’re at it, you can also apply a fresh coat of paint to the fan blades if necessary.
THERE’S THE DOOR
Give flat, one-dimensional doors an overhaul by adding painted plywood
panels for a shaker-style look or trim pieces to create a classic, 6-panel look. It’s a good idea to get your panels or trim cut by a pro — and pick up some matching paint and finishing nails while you’re at it. Investing in a pneumatic finish nailer will come in handy for this job and others once you get the hang of it, or you can often rent one for a day or two.
DRESS UP YOUR WALLS
Create a feature wall (or a half wall) with textured wall panels. Modern beaded paneling, wainscot and shiplap are quite versatile. Installing pre-cut and painted decorative paneling or beadboard as a kitchen backsplash may be more manageable than tiling since you won’t need grout. Just like individual or sheeted tiles, these boards will require precise measuring and add visual interest
and texture — so that’s where that nailer will be helpful! Try adding panels or a wainscot to the walls of a kitchen island or a sunken bathtub. Just be sure to finish with a waterproof sealant in highmoisture areas.
Swapping out hardware is an easy and economical way to make an immediate impact. Update doorknobs, drawer handles, cabinet pulls or door hinges in a new finish or style. Carry the finish and style of your new hardware throughout the house — multiple items in the same style are often packaged together at significant savings.
Visit your local Do it Best store or doitbest.com for thousands of the best home improvement products.by Joe Halcomb
Joe Halcomb is co-owner of Halcomb Home Center in Versailles. He’s a member-owner of Do it Best, a Fort Wayne-based cooperative of thousands of hardware stores, home centers and lumberyards throughout the US and around the world.
the accuracy or completeness of the information contained herein, or for injuries, property damage or the outcome of any project.
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White Line for 811.
• When preparing to dig, both homeowners and professionals should mark the intended dig site with white paint or flags prior to contacting 811.
• When submitting a locate request online, be sure to answer “Yes” on the White Lining question, or tell the 811 operator “Yes” when asked if you are going to White Line when calling 811 to submit a locate request.
Learn about the importance of White Lining, how you can White Line and the role it plays in streamlining the 811 process for all parties involved at Indiana811.org/whitelining