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Fowke Honored as 2018 Distinguished Citizen

Xcel Energy has long tradition of supporting Scouting

Fifty years ago, Scouting introduced Ben Fowke to the outdoors, taught him first aid and provided an extra support system as he grew up in a single-parent household. The former Cub Scout/Boy Scout didn’t recognize it at the time, but Scouting also provided Fowke with some of the first opportunities to learn and demonstrate leadership skills through the collection of merit badges.

Those leadership skills – combined with his dedication to Xcel Energy and the greater Twin Cities community – are reasons why the Northern Star Council of the Boys Scouts of America presented Fowke with its 2018 Distinguished Citizen Award last week.

“Ben’s business and civic involvement in the Twin Cities and beyond has, pun intended, literally and figuratively empowered thousands and thousands of folks,” Chris Policinski, the event chair and the 2016 Distinguished Citizen recipient, said during his introduction. Polincinski, the retiring CEO at Land O’Lakes who also serves at the Lead Director on the Xcel Energy board, lauded Fowke’s competence as a leader as one of the largest utilities in the country and his generosity to industry and community causes.

“Under Ben’s leadership, Xcel Energy has been a very strong supporter of the Northern Star Council, both financially and encouraging their employees to get involved,” Policinski said.

A great example is the volunteer work to build a high ropes course at the Scouting Base Camp near the airport. Last fall and this spring, Xcel Energy volunteers set more than a dozen poles for the high ropes course. Two of those volunteers, Ryan Zahler and Kellen Schmidt, were among a group of Xcel Energy employees who attended the June 20 event at the Minneapolis Depot that raised more than a $500,000 to fund Scouting programs at Northern Star Council. Life lessons

During his comments, Fowke noted how Scouting has timeless values, but is also changing with the times. He hopes that the first female Eagle Scout will come from the Northern Star Council that serves 55,000 boys and girls in Minnesota and western Wisconsin through traditional Scouting programs, classroom modules and the Base Camp experience and the newly opened Leadership Lab.

“In a lot of ways, Scouting was way ahead of the times. Think back to Scouting – 108 years ago. How many organizations were out there talking about the need to respect and take care of the environment? Think about it, Scouting was. How many organizations were teaching kids about the love of the great outdoors and to get outdoors? Well, how important is that today? By the way, I’m glad that there is no merit badge for texting, but we need to get our kids away from their video games.” Fowke said Scouting teaches you to respect others, to do your best and the values that organizations are looking for in future leaders. And the data shows that Scouts are more successful in their careers and generate higher salaries. “Of course, skills are important, but values are a lot harder to teach,” Fowke said.

He encouraged the Scouts in the room to look to Xcel Energy and to other table sponsors in the room – many of the large Twin Cities companies.

“We’re all after the same thing, people with character and the can-do attitude, and that is Scouting,” Fowke said. “You should really be proud of yourselves.”

Rafael Montejo and his mom, Ofelia Cortes, both had key speaking roles at the program. Rafael served as event emcee and spoke about how Scouting has impacted his life. Ofelia is one of 12,000 volunteer Scouting leaders for the Northern Star Council. As a single parent, she talked about how Scouting has provided the leadership opportunities to turn her son from a shy kid to one who had no trouble speaking to 400 people.

Fowke Honored as 2018 Distinguished Citizen

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