More than 120 Dakota Electric Association members volunteered their time on May 1 to help work in Fort Snelling State Park as part of the eleventh annual, state-wide, Touchstone Energy GreenTouch day.

Local electric cooperatives around the state of Minnesota helped organize 840 volunteers who worked more than 2,600 hours — armed with rakes, clippers, trash bags and work gloves — to help prepare 15 Minnesota state parks for the spring and summer seasons.

Dakota Electric members collected trash, gathered buckthorn for chipping and pulled garlic mustard, an exotic species that overtakes the forest floor and crowds out other plants. The group of energetic cooperative members performed 390 hours of service to prepare Fort Snelling for summer hikers, bikers and nature lovers.

Mark Cleveland, central region resource specialist for the Department of Natural Resources, presented a plaque to Dakota Electric in appreciation for the electric cooperative’s efforts organizing volunteers over the years.

“We are appreciative of those who came out to help make the park better for everyone who enjoys it,” Cleveland said. Larry Trogen, Apple Valley, and his family have helped nearly every year that Dakota Electric has organized the program.

“It is fun to get out and work with nature,” he said. “It’s nice to help maintain the park and to give a little bit back. It also teaches

[his] boys responsibility and helping to take care of things.”

The GreenTouch project is a partnership between Minnesota’s Touchstone Energy cooperatives and the Minnesota State Park system. Electric cooperatives in Minnesota over the last eleven years have contributed to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to help fund the State Park guide and Junior Park Naturalist program. Over that time, GreenTouch has provided more than 6,800 volunteers who have worked more than 23,100 hours for the Minnesota State Park system.

Each cooperative that took part in the GreenTouch event recruited members and employees to volunteer at state parks within or near their service areas. Dakota Electric volunteers included families, individuals, scouts and other groups from around Dakota County. 

“Dakota Electric would like to thank everyone who helped make this event a success,” said Joe Miller, organizer of the event for Dakota Electric. “This annual event provides a way for Dakota Electric and its members to demonstrate their commitment to the local community and the environment.”

A customer-owned, non-profit utility since 1937, Dakota Electric Association provides electricity to more than 100,000 members throughout Dakota County and portions of Goodhue, Rice and Scott counties. Dakota Electric is a Touchstone Energy cooperative.

Touchstone Energy is a nation-wide alliance of 700 electric cooperatives in 46 states serving more than 40 million members with integrity, accountability, innovation and a longstanding commitment to communities.