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.
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
“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.