Ukrainian students learn about leadership, energy during tour - Great River Energy

Ukrainian students learn about leadership, energy during tour

Eighteen students visiting from the Ukraine recently toured Great River Energy’s Maple Grove headquarters and received a taste of home during the event.

The students, ages 13 through 18, were in Minnesota as part of a five-week business and entrepreneurship program sponsored by Global Synergy Group, a nonprofit whose goal is to strengthen communities in Minnesota and Ukraine through facilitation, civic engagement and leadership development.

“The tour was part of the students’ day in Maple Grove learning more about business operations and leadership within the community,” said Brett Angell, assistant community and economic development director for the city of Maple Grove. “We felt as though Great River Energy was a perfect business to visit due to being one of the larger employers within the community, the exceptional sustainability measures of the building and being a cornerstone for the Arbor Lakes area.”

Several employees worked together facilitating the group’s visit, including Anya Vanumu, director of member resources, rates and contracts, and Kseniya Kravchenko, leader of operational system performance. Both women emigrated to the United States as teenagers, which brought a unique personal touch to the tour. This also provided an opportunity for students to hear their native language as Vanumu gave her presentation in Ukrainian.

I started with the words, ‘Dobryi den, my z Ukrainy’ — ‘Good day/evening, we’re from Ukraine — which has become an important motto and greeting for Ukrainians ever since the full-scale invasion. It’s how [Ukrainian leaders] address the nation in their nightly broadcasts. The reaction from the kids was simply overwhelming and nearly brought me to tears.

— Anya Vanumu, director of member resources, rates and contracts

The students learned about Great River Energy and the cooperative business model before touring the Maple Grove grounds to learn about the organization’s renewable energy efforts from Mark Rathbun, manager of renewable energy resources, as well as the building’s energy efficiency features from Todd Beck, building and security technician/electrician. Kravchenko and Vanumu also spoke about their respective pathways to leadership at the cooperative.

“I spoke about my emigration experience, education, career decision, path to leadership, and my role at Great River Energy,” Vanumu said. “I also encouraged the students to consider a career in the electric industry and underscored the importance of the industry in Ukraine’s future.”

Following their five-week stay in Minnesota, students plan to bring back ideas they have learned to Ukraine to help the country build its future.

“Their day in Maple Grove led to these students learning valuable information that can hopefully help guide their future career plans and help shape their communities,” Angell said.

Eighteen students visiting from the Ukraine recently toured Great River Energy’s Maple Grove headquarters and heard from several employees about the cooperative’s energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives.
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