PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota National Guard hosted its 2017 Dining-Out at the Ramkota Hotel and Convention Center in Pierre, Feb. 1.
The annual event brings together Guardsmen from across the state for a formal evening to honor the organization’s history and to recognize individual and unit achievements from the past year.
The atmosphere, while formal, includes deep-rooted traditions which lighten the mood and provide both members and guests not only plenty of laughs, but a chance to learn some of the organization’s history, traditions and an opportunity to recognize individual and unit achievements.
A video highlighting the many accomplishments made by the men and women of the SDNG in 2017 was shown in addition to comments from Gov. Dennis Daugaard and Maj. Gen. Tim Reisch, the SDNG adjutant general. The National Guard also recognized a family, an employer and a public servant with awards recognizing their contributions to the SDNG mission.
Pro Patria Award – RENEW Energy, Inc.
The awards portion of the evening began by presenting RENEW Energy, Inc. with the South Dakota Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Pro Patria Award.
The Pro Patria Award is presented annually to one South Dakota employer who provides exceptional support of our national defense through leadership practices and personnel policies that support employees serving in the National Guard or Reserve.
Staff Sgt. Daniel Noldner, a lead field technician with RENEW Energy and a member of the South Dakota Army National Guard’s Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 147th Field Artillery, nominated his employer for the award.
“RENEW Energy realizes the importance of a strong force and provides remarkable support and opportunities to members of the U.S. Armed Forces,” said Maj. Lona Christensen, executive director for the SD ESGR committee.
Sioux Falls-based RENEW Energy actively recruits National Guard and Reserve members as evidenced by their employee’s referral bonus for military hires.
“Their management team provides the most flexibility possible when planning schedules around an employee’s military service,” Christensen said. “RENEW Energy’s technicians travel to worksites throughout the nation performing work on wind turbines. It doesn’t matter where their technician is working at the week of an upcoming drill weekend, RENEW will either pay for the technician’s plane tickets or all the fuel to get home for drill and then back to the work site.”
RENEW’s support is extended to the families of service members as well.
“One employee married a service member just prior to his deployment,” Christensen said, during the award’s presentation. “RENEW energy employees rallied around her and ensured that she was supported during her husband’s deployment. This employee, the military spouse, hadn’t been with RENEW very long and didn’t have much vacation built up but she was still afforded time off without question to attend military events. She was also provided time off when her spouse returned.”
RENEW Energy’s commitment to an employee’s military service comes from the top down.
“One employee shared a conversation he had with the president of RENEW,” Christensen said, sharing another example with the audience. “During this conversation, the employee mentioned he wanted to get out of the National Guard so his service wouldn’t burden the company.
The employee was told by the president that the company would do whatever they needed to do in order to support his dual careers, saying, “Do not make the company the reason you get out of the Guard. We are here to support your Guard career, not make you quit.”
“A second employee cited a similar conversation with the president,” said Christensen. “This experience led him to say, he felt the support then and now from RENEW Energy and as a result of the company’s support of his military service, he will achieve a military retirement.
“Employers are inextricably linked to the nation’s defense by sharing their most precious assets, their employees,” Christensen said. “RENEW Energy, Inc. is deserving of this recognition for their outstanding contributions to our military services. Their leadership exemplifies the patriotic spirit that is alive and well here in our great State of South Dakota.”