Elevate Energy Blog

Who Won the Energy Education Challenge in Illinois: Mason City, Petersburg, or Virden?

Congratulations to Virden, Illinois, the winner of $22,000 in the Energy Education Challenge! The aim of the challenge was to inspire residents in three communities to educate their friends and neighbors on how to reduce energy use.

“We’re thrilled we won first place in the challenge, this means a lot to our community. I would like to thank everybody who had anything to do with our success,” said Virden Mayor George Murphy.

As part of the challenge, Virden held nearly 30 energy-related events with more than 1,200 total participants.

Virden Alderman Chris Dodd was an enthusiastic participant in the challenge. “It turned out to be a great competition, everyone in the community came together,” Dodd said. “We pulled together and had a lot of support.”

Mason City and Petersburg each also won $14,000. The six-month challenge ended late last year and awarded a total of $50,000 across the communities thanks to the support of the Illinois Science & Energy Innovation Foundation (ISEIF).

In total, more than 9,000 people attended nearly 90 energy-related events across the three communities! That’s more than the total population of the three towns combined (based on 2016 population statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau). To inspire a deeper level of involvement and learning, residents were encouraged to attend multiple events throughout the challenge, from house parties to community meetings.

Prizes were also awarded to the most involved organizations in each community, including Virden Knights of Columbus and Virden Area Chamber of Commerce, Petersburg Merchants and Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, and Mason City Rotary and the Mason City Christian Church Manna Project.

The Energy Education Challenge Keeps on Giving

While Virden took the top prize, all three communities are winners. Elevate Energy facilitated the challenge to help residents understand the concepts of energy efficiency and connect these concepts to real and tangible benefits, like saving money. When people make this connection and have a clear sense of what they can do, they are more inspired to take action—like enrolling in bill savings programs or investing in improvements to their home—and to share this knowledge with others.

Tina Williamson, a field organizer with Elevate Energy, spent a lot time with residents in Petersburg and Mason City and said that the impact doesn’t end with the challenge.

“They were passionate about the issues and continue to work with me to learn from the information and make changes,” Williamson said. Elevate Energy is currently planning more energy events at the request of residents (including some upcoming energy house parties) long after the challenge has ended. “The competition was an amazing introduction but they see the positive benefits of continuing this work,” she said.

Next up, Elevate Energy will facilitate a year-long challenge in new Illinois communities with the support of ISEIF.

Want to learn more about hosting an Energy Education Challenge in your community? We can help! Get in touch with us today.