Focusing On Reliability

Nodak Electric Cooperative uses multiple methods such as annual maintenance programs, automated technologies and strategic initiatives to enhance reliability, reduce labor time for our crews and lessen outage times. 

Oil Circuit Reclosures (OCRs)

Oil circuit reclosers (OCRs) act like a circuit breaker, protecting distribution lines in the case of a temporary fault or short. The OCR opens to halt the fault and closes again immediately, causing a small “blink” in electricity. If the line anomaly continues, the OCR will shut off (remain open), resulting in an outage.

Winter Maintenance

In January, line crews will begin driving around our service territory to inspect overhead lines and look for potential hazards that could be dangerous or affect reliability. Some of these hazards include cracked, broken and leaning poles, trees hanging dangerously close to power lines, frayed wires and blown arrestors.

Summer Maintenance 

In the summer months, line crews and local contractors perform pole inspections, vegetation management and preventive right-of-way trimming.

Seven Service Centers

Nodak Electric Cooperative has seven local service centers. It was a deliberate decision to have these centers throughout our nine-county service territory in order to maintain a local presence in these communities, while also working to reduce the time it takes for our lineworkers to respond and restore electricity.

Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)

In addition to meter readings, Nodak Electric Cooperative’s AMI system provides real-time data that helps us detect faults and other potential problems on the electric grid. This system supports increased reliability for you, our member-owners.

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Pride Of Dakota Hosts Holiday Showcase

The 2021 Pride of Dakota holiday showcase was held recently at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D. The showcase drew in over 110 vendors for the two-day event offering North Dakota-made products. 

Pride of Dakota was created in 1985 by former Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Jones who asked a small group of North Dakota businesses and the Department of Agriculture’s marketing staff to develop an identifiable state brand that would designate products as “made in North Dakota.” 

Pride of Dakota was officially launched the same year with a roster of about 20 companies. Today, more than 500 member companies – ranging in size from large companies with more than 100 employees to “mom-and-pop” operations – participate in the program. Members include food and beverage companies, manufacturers, publishers, artisans, gift manufacturers and service providers. 

Pride of Dakota hosts holiday showcases for manufacturers and service providers. Associate members, such as commodity groups, government agencies, educational institutions and retailers, also support the program. Pride of Dakota’s goal is to provide local business owners the business development resources and marketing opportunities they need to be successful.

Source: prideofdakota.nd.gov

 

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Grow The Company, Grow The Community

Business has been poppin’ this year for one of Nodak Electric Cooperative’s commercial members in Devils Lake. Farm-family-owned CoJACK Snack & Pack is one part bean processing and packaging company and one part Colorado Jack popcorn plant – but it’s 100% on the grow.

“Sales have been going great,” said Chace Austvold, head of CoJACK marketing and sales and daughter of CoJACK founder Brian Engstrom. 

Colorado Jack popcorn can be found regionally in stores like Hornbacher’s and Simonson Station Stores, but it has recently expanded to even more retailers across the country, including all Hy-Vee gas stations. Austvold is especially excited about a new partnership with the Fargodome, which is now selling their raw and packaged popcorn. “If you make it to a Bison game or Fargodome event, be on the lookout for a custom Colorado Jack popcorn cart!” she said.

Popcorn is just one piece of the multifaceted undertaking that is CoJACK Snack & Pack. The company also takes raw product from local farmers, cleans it, packages it and ships it out on their behalf. The process creates a value-added ag ecosystem right in the heart of the nation’s top state for dry edible beans.

“Almost 100% of the pinto beans are from local farmers,” Engstrom explained as he walked through a warehouse stacked high and far with raw black beans, peas, lentils and more. “Some things are coming from western North Dakota and Montana. But within a couple hundred miles of here – that’s where nearly all of our product comes from.”

Since purchasing the 120,000-square-foot CoJACK facility in March 2019, the family has continued to push forward in terms of efficiency and production. Engstrom is currently setting up equipment for an additional packaging and production line on the Colorado Jack side of the building that will allow them to produce their popular Caramel popcorn at the same time as their savory varieties (such as Sea Salt & Butter and White Cheddar & Jalapeño).

All that production takes power. Before the conveyors started rolling in 2019, Engstrom called on Nodak Electric Cooperative to help him get transformer capacity back to the operation days of the past, when the building was used as a pasta factory. With much of the packaging lines, heat lamps and even forklifts powered with electricity, CoJACK’s co-op had a role to play in the venture.

“Because we are in a very large agricultural-based area, I think it’s always great when our members
can take a product from the farm to the shelf,” said Nodak engineering manager Steve Breidenbach. “The entrepreneurial efforts of the family are spectacular.”

Companies like CoJACK are a growing necessity for North Dakota communities like Devils Lake. Not only is the business boosting the ag industry and supplying great jobs, but it’s diversifying the local economy and bringing in money from outside of the state. In 2020, CoJACK was given the Governor’s Choice Award for Economic Development. “The whole project embodies rural economic development. So many times it’s out-of-state projects coming to North Dakota, taking our local economic development dollars, failing and then two years later, they’re gone,” said Brad Barth, executive director of Forward Devils Lake Corporation. “Here you have local owners that risked significant dollars, found other partners, and in less than a year have nearly 30 employees in a highly automated packaging facility – that’s a pretty cool thing.”

It’s not only the local community benefiting from CoJACK. The company is using its Colorado Jack popcorn as the center of a program to help organizations fundraise, from school groups to sports teams. Austvold says over the course of 2021, they have doubled the amount of fundraisers supported compared to the previous year. She adds that the opportunity isn’t simply for students – any organization wanting to raise money can participate.

Throughout October, Colorado Jack offered a special popcorn pack to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month and support breast cancer research. Fifty percent of the proceeds of the POP into Action packs will be donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

“Our organization, as well as many others, have been affected by breast cancer in some way. We wanted to show support to our employees and others when creating this pack,” Austvold said. “Our company is built on the principles of giving back. We make it a priority in our day-to-day businesses. For me, it’s about creating awareness to the needs in the community and encouraging others to help give back in any way possible.”

CoJACK Snack & Pack also works closely with Lake Region Corporation (LRC), a nonprofit community-based organization dedicated to providing vocational, residential and support services for those with disabilities. CoJACK currently has three lucky LRC assistants who help keep the plant clean, and they soon plan to have LRC help with processing and packaging orders from the four online channels they use to sell Colorado Jack popcorn: the online store, Amazon, HSN and Feast and Field.

The family received the LRC Partner of the Year award this year, and they can’t wait to see that partnership grow along with the company.

“We are shipping 15-20 small orders a day, and that number does not include our small-case orders for customers that we drop ship to,” Austvold explained. “So we are busy and definitely need the help!”

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Heating And Energy Saving Tips

Small space heaters are meant to do exactly as their name says – heat a small space. But unfortunately, many people use portable space heaters to heat their entire home, which can really take a toll on your energy bills. The truth is, whether you should use space heaters really depends on your home’s efficiency and energy needs. 

If you’re using a space heater to compensate for problems in your home, like inadequate insulation, drafty windows and exterior doors, or an inefficient heating system, space heaters are not a practical solution. Your best bet is to improve the overall efficiency of your home. If you’re on a tight budget, caulking and weather stripping around windows and exterior doors is a low-cost, easy way to save energy. Depending on the size of your home, adding insulation can be a great next step. Taking these proactive energy-saving steps rather than relying on space heaters for supplemental heat can reduce your heating and cooling bills for years to come. 

Maybe your home is energy efficient, but you’re cold-natured and want a specific room to be cozier than the rest. In this case, a space heater may work for your needs. A good comparison is ceiling fans – we use ceiling fans in the summer to cool people, not rooms. A space heater can be used in a similar way during winter months. But, use a space heater in small spaces that you’re occupying and, if possible, try to shut off other rooms to contain the warmth provided by the space heater. If you decide to use a space heater to heat a small area in your home, make sure the heater is properly sized for the space. 

A word about safety: The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates more than 25,000 residential fires are caused by the use of space heaters every year, resulting in more than 300 deaths. If you need to use a space heater, buy a newer model that includes the most current safety features and make sure it has the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) label. Choose a thermostatically controlled heater to avoid energy waste and overheating and place the heater on a level surface away from foot traffic when in use. 

As an alternative, consider changing your furnace to an electric off-peak system. It’s one of the best energy values for home heating. The cost of electricity from Nodak Electric has been stable for a number of years and will remain stable this winter. With the cost of propane and natural gas rising, off-peak electric heating is an even better value today. 

In closing, this holiday season we want to say thank you to all our veterans and men and women who serve in the U.S. armed forces. It’s said that we are all warmed by fires we did not build and drink from wells we did not dig. Many of our fires and wells have been in large part provided by our servicemen and women. The freedom we live under is due to the sacrifices of these brave men and women and we can’t thank them enough. 

Giving thanks is also an important part of this holiday season and we would be remiss if we didn’t express how thankful we are for our members. Because of your connection and involvement in your electric cooperative, we are able to make our communities better places and enhance the lives of those we serve. Thank you all for what you do for Nodak Electric. 

Finally, from all of us at Nodak, we want to wish you Happy Holidays. May they be merry and bright!

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Notice To Off-peak Members

The off-peak program is designed to reduce electric load during peak demand times and pass energy savings on to participating members by controlling electric home heating and water heating equipment.

If during the heating season you experience a control event that seems excessively long or have no hot water, please be sure to give us a call first to determine if further help is needed.

To know if load is being controlled, click on “Energy Information” from the homepage and then the link “Load Management Status.” When viewing the Last Switching Status graph, cells that are the color green indicating “on” means there is no load control activity, and red cells with “off’ indicate load is being controlled.

If you have any questions, please call 1-800-732-4373 or 701-746-4461.

How does Nodak’s $0.062/kWh off-peak heating rate compare to alternative fuel sources?

Fuel Type

Furnace Efficiency

Fuel Price

Unit of Measure

Propane

95%

$1.58

gallon

80%

$1.73

gallon

Natural Gas 95%

$1.33

ccf (for mcf x 10)

80%

$1.45

ccf (for mcf x 10)

Fuel Oil 70%

$1.78

gallon

60%

$1.53

gallon

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Great Rebates

Add comfort and energy efficiency to your home with help from Nodak Electric Cooperative!

Rebates are available to help you upgrade your heating and cooling system, water heater and chargers for electric vehicles. Nodak Electric offers these rebates to encourage load development, load retention and wise use of energy.

Electric Heating

Heating Systems

Rebate

Plenum heaters, baseboard, electric furnace and hanging unit heater

$25/kW

Cable floor heat, electric boiler and brick storage unit

$45/kW

Mini-split or air-source heat pump

$150/ton

Ground-source heat pump

$250/ton

Water Heaters

Electric Water Heaters

Rebate

55 gallon or less

$125

56-99 gallon

$200

100 gallon or greater

$300

Additional rebate for new building construction

$100

Additional rebate for conversion from existing natural gas or propane to an electric water heater

$250

Electric vehicle chargers

Electric Vehicle Chargers

Rebate

Electric vehicle (EV)

$50/kW

Commercial – forklifts, Zambonis, etc.

$50/kW

All systems must be new equipment and controlled on Nodak’s off-peak program. A check will be issued to participating members after a visit from a Nodak technician.

Please call our Energy Services team at 701-746-4461 or 800-732-4373 if you have any questions about off-peak or the rebate program.

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Remembering Service And Sacrifice

New Veterans Memorial Park in Grand Forks pays tribute to Armed Forces. 

When Al Palmer looks over the new Veterans Memorial Park in Grand Forks, each display has a story to tell, a person to remember and a sacrifice that should never be forgotten.

A retired Air Force General, Palmer takes the opportunity not only to reflect on his 38-year military career, but also on the service provided by his father, father-in-law, uncle and other family members whose names appear on individual blocks in the park.

“It provides an opportunity to go and spend time with your loved ones,” Palmer said. “It’s nice to know you can go there, look at their names, and remember them for their service and sacrifice.”

More than 1,000 people gathered and hundreds more watched online as the park was dedicated and officially opened on the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Palmer chaired a committee that drove the 6.2-acre space from dream into a reality.

Project ideas had been in the works for more than a decade, but gained traction in 2017 when the committee, in true military fashion, set a regimented schedule for meetings and developed a board of director structure. With a strong team assembled, they agreed there would be no salaries or per diems – every dollar would go to the park, which is located at the intersection of 24th Avenue South
and 34th Street.

Over 1,200 businesses and organizations were contacted to support the $2.5 million project. The first major breakthrough came from the Engelstad Foundation, which provided $250,000. Donations flooded in from there, ranging from a few dollars to tens of thousands.

Nodak Electric Cooperative supported the project through a $1,000 donation, while its wholesale power provider, Minnkota Power Cooperative, contributed $2,000.

“As cooperatives, we’re committed to the communities we serve,” said Mylo Einarson, Nodak Electric president and CEO. “It is important for our local communities to have a place where we can properly recognize our military service members and veterans for their commitment and sacrifice. Veterans Memorial Park is an important reminder of everything they’ve done for our country.”

The centerpiece of the park is a 40-foot-long, 6-foot-high Memorial Wall made of granite. The wall is laser-etched with 156 images explaining the role of American veterans from the first wars to the present day. A nearby touchscreen kiosk is available to provide more information on each image and its significance.

Granite benches and large pillars recognizing each military branch surround the Memorial Wall. At night, the display is illuminated and the images on the wall shine brightly through the darkness. Other attractions include a Northrop Grumman Global Hawk and a General Atomics Reaper, while a B-52 model should be installed in late fall or early spring.

Palmer is quick to deflect credit for the completion of the project and recognizes numerous individuals for their unique roles. Those same individuals decided to name the park’s Visitor Center after Palmer. “I broke down and cried,” Palmer said. “My grandkids can come here and see that and remember their grandfather. It’s very, very personal.”

Following the dedication, the Veterans Memorial Park committee will disband and officially turn operations over to the Grand Forks Park District. Palmer said the project leaders will still be active in advocating for the park and raising funds for future additions. His biggest goal is to get an F-16 to display on site.

“I don’t know of anyone in the Upper Midwest who has something like this,” Palmer said. “It’s a destination center for Grand Forks. And there is still room for us to grow.”

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Reflecting On Cooperative Principles

ACE Hardware, State Farm, American Crystal Sugar, Land O’Lakes, and Nodak Electric all share something in common – we’re all cooperatives.

We may be in different industries, but we all share a passion for serving our members and helping our communities to thrive. In fact, all cooperatives adhere to the same set of seven principles that reflect our core values of honesty, transparency, equity, inclusiveness, and service to the greater community good. October is National Co-op Month, so this is the perfect time to reflect on these principles that have stood the test of time, but also provide a framework for the future. Let’s take a look at the cooperative principles.

Voluntary and Open Membership

Just like all co-ops, Nodak was created out of necessity – to meet a need that would have been otherwise unmet in our community. So, in 1940 a group of neighbors banded together and organized our electric co-op so everyone in our community could benefit. For a modest membership fee to the co-op, any farmer could get electricity brought to his farm. Neighbors came together to tackle a problem that they all had but couldn’t solve alone. They worked together for the benefit of the whole community, and the newly established electric lines helped power economic opportunity in our community.

Democratic Member Control

Our co-op is well suited to meet the needs of our members because we are locally governed. Each member gets a voice and a vote in how the co-op is run, and each voice and vote are equal. Nodak’s leadership team and employees are from right here. Our board of directors, which helps set long-term priorities for the co-op, also lives locally on co-op lines. These board members have been elected by neighbors just like you. We know our members have a valuable perspective, and that’s why we are continually seeking your input and encourage you to weigh in on important co-op issues and participate in co-op elections.

Members’ Economic Participation

As a utility, our mission is to provide safe, reliable and affordable energy to our members. But as a co-op, we are also motivated by service to the community, rather than profits. Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of Nodak Electric. At least part of that capital remains the common property of the cooperative. Because we are guided by seven cooperative principles, it’s not just about dollars – it’s about opportunity for all and being fair when engaging with our members. The cooperative way is a values-based business model.

Autonomy and Independence

The fourth principle, Autonomy and Independence, means that the co-op operates in an autonomous way that is solely directed and guided by its members, reflecting the values and needs of our local community. This means the co-op is not being influenced by leaders or shareholders several states away. Instead, the co-op is led by the local members it serves.

Education and Training

The fifth principle, Education and Training, focuses on enhancing the knowledge of co-op employees and board members, which enables them to contribute to the development of the co-op.

By investing in continuous learning for our employees and board members, our co-op is making a commitment not just to individual professional and personal growth, but to the future of the co-op and the high quality of service our members expect and deserve. It’s a win-win situation.

We also strive to inform our members (that’s you!) and the public about the mission and operations of the co-op. In fact, that’s why you receive this magazine, so we can share the latest co-op news and updates, as well as energy efficiency and safety tips.

Cooperation Among Cooperatives

Cooperation Among Cooperatives is the sixth principle and fosters the way that co-ops work together to address bigger challenges. While this principle applies to all types of cooperatives, it is especially relevant in the energy industry. In our case, we put this principle in action after major storms and disasters that cause widespread power outages. When this happens, we call on nearby co-ops to come to our aid and assist with restoration efforts, and we of course extend the same help to them when they need us. I can’t think of a better example of cooperation among cooperatives.

Concern for Community

The seventh principle, Concern for Community, is essential to who we are as cooperatives. We serve our community not only by being an essential service, but by helping to power our local economy. Whether through economic development, volunteerism or donations to local causes, we invest in our community because it’s our home too.I think you’ll find that most cooperatives bring good people together to make good things happen in the community. We hope you feel that way about us – your local electric co-op.

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Be Cyber Smart: October Is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

At a time when we are more connected than ever, being “cyber smart” is of the utmost importance. This year has already seen more than a fair share of cyberattacks and breaches, including the high-profile attacks on the Colonial Pipeline and other critical infrastructure. Furthermore, as has been underlined by these recent breaches, cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated with more evolved bad actors cropping up each day. Luckily, there are several steps that we can take on a daily basis to mitigate risks and stay one step ahead of wrongdoers.

Here are a few quick tips:

Enable multi-factor authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds that necessary second check to verify your identity when logging in to one of your accounts. By requiring multiple methods of authentication, your account is further protected from being compromised, even if a bad actor hijacks your password. In this way, MFA makes it more difficult for password cracking tools to enable attackers to break into accounts.

Use strong passphrases/password manage

This may seem obvious, but all too often securing strong passphrases/password managers is overlooked. People spending more time online during the pandemic has certainly contributed to more bad actors prowling for accounts to attack. Using long, complex and unique passwords is a good way to stop your account from being hacked, and an easy way of keeping track and remembering your passwords is by using a password manager.

Perform software updates

When a device prompts that it’s time to update the software, it may be tempting to simply click postpone and ignore the message. However, having the latest security software, web
browser and operating system on devices is one of the best defenses against online threats. So, don’t
wait – update.

Do your research before downloading

Common sense is a crucial part of maintaining good online hygiene, and an intuitive step to stay safe online is to do some research before downloading anything new to your device, such as apps. Before downloading, make sure to check who created the app, what the user reviews say and if there are any articles published online about the app’s privacy and security features.

Check your security settings

Be diligent to double check your privacy and security settings and be aware of who can access your documents. This extends from Google Docs to Zoom calls and beyond. For meetings on Zoom, for example, create passwords so only those invited to the session can attend, and restrict who can share their screen or files with the rest of the attendees.

Make a habit of practicing online safety:

Being cyber smart and maintaining stellar online hygiene is the best way to protect yourself and others from cyberattacks. No single tip is foolproof, but taken together they can make a real difference in safeguarding your online presence. Following these tips is also easy and free. By taking preventive measures and making a habit of practicing online safety, you can decrease your odds of being hacked exponentially – and prevent lost time and money, as well as annoyance. 

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Take The Chill Out Of Your Energy Bill

As jackets and mittens leave the closets this fall, be ready to cut the chill and your energy bill with these money-saving tips for autumn:

  • Set your thermostat no higher than 68 degrees when you are home and lower the temperature when you go to bed or when you are not at home. This saves money and keeps you warm.
  • During the day, open shades and curtains to allow solar heating. Close them at night to retain the day’s heat.
  • Bundle up your home. Weatherize your home by caulking and weather stripping all doors and windows. Also use locks on your windows to make them tighter and draft resistant. Reducing air leaks could cut 10% from an average household’s monthly energy bill. The most common places where air escapes homes are: floors, walls, ceilings, ducts, fireplaces, plumbing penetrations, doors, windows, fans, vents and electrical outlets.
  • Have your heating system serviced by a professional once a year.
  • Check furnace filters. Be sure to clean or replace your heating and cooling system’s air filter. At a minimum, change the filter every three months; a dirty filter clogs the system, making the system work harder to keep you warm.
  • Insulate or increase the amount of insulation in your attic, basement and outside walls. Also cover through-the-wall air conditioners to prevent cold air from leaking into your home.
  • Don’t block your radiators or heating vents with furniture or draperies. Keep your radiators, registers and baseboard heaters free of dirt and dust. Close vents and doors in unused rooms.
  • Close the fireplace damper when not in use.
  • Turn your water heater down to 120 degrees to save money on your energy bill.

Want more ways to save? Take the home energy savings tour and see how little changes add up to big savings at www.TogetherWeSave.com.

Tune your furnace for fall

You can save energy this fall and winter by having your furnace serviced. Electric, gas and propane furnaces can go approximately three to five years between service calls and longer, if you change the filters regularly. Oil furnaces need to be serviced once a year, because they get dirty and need annual adjustment.

Changing filters regularly is one of the key maintenance tasks to keep any type of furnace running efficiently. Make sure you know where your furnace’s filter is located and what size it is. Inspect it periodically, and replace it when it is dirty. How frequently you need to change the filter depends on the amount of dirt in the house and around the furnace and also how much time the furnace runs.

Duct air leakage is one of the largest energy-wasters in your heating system. Heating contractors can check your ducts for air leakage and seal the largest leaks. Contractors start by sealing the larger joints near the furnace, and then work out toward the branch ducts as access allows. Believe it or not, duct tape is not a good choice for sealing ducts because its adhesive usually fails after a short time. Duct mastic, available in cans or buckets, is an effective and permanent material for sealing air leaks in ducts.

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Daily Cycling Of Electric Storage Heat To Begin In Late October

Members heating with electric thermal storage, such as thermal storage room units, thermal storage furnaces or slab/in-floor heating, should turn on their heating system prior to Oct. 15 to allow a heat reservoir to build up before daily cycling of loads begins. The actual date cycling begins varies each season. Thermal storage heating is controlled each day from 7 a.m. to noon and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

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An All-Expense-Paid Trip To Washington, D.C.

Get entered in for your chance to win an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. with the Nodak Dakota Electric Cooperative Youth Tour.

June 19-24, 2022
Washington, D.C.

ESSAY QUESTION:

If you were asked to help promote your cooperative’s annual membership meeting, what ideas do you have for increasing attendance among young member-owners and students?

Please provide specific examples for unique communications strategies, scheduling and special activities for member-owners and their families.

  • To enter the essay-writing contest, you must be a sophomore or junior in high school.
  • You and your parents or guardian must be served by Nodak Electric Cooperative.
  • If you have any questions, please contact Gretchen Schmaltz, Nodak Electric, at 701-746-4461 during regular business hours.
  • The deadline is Dec. 10, 2021. You can email entries to Gretchen Schmaltz at gschmaltz@nodakelectric.com or mail a hard copy to: Youth Tour Essay Contest, 4000 32nd Ave. S., PO Box 13000, Grand Forks, ND 58208-3000.

Check out the essay contest guidelines at ndyouthtour.com

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