Ryan Wilson and Morgan Sutton grew up across the pasture from each other in Osgood, Indiana.


They were more like brothers than cousins – playing together, going to school together and most everything else together.


What they didn’t expect was to choose a career together.


But both graduated from the North American Lineman Training Center (NALTC) in December of 2022 and are the 2023 recipients of the second annual W. Eugene Roberts & Daniel L. Schuckman Memorial Scholarships from Hoosier Energy.


“Having a job with that nice scholarship is something I still can’t imagine,” said Sutton, who is working at his hometown Southeastern Indiana REMC. “It’s nothing short of great, that’s for sure. And for me and my cousin to be the ones receiving the scholarships, that’s quite a big deal.”


Sutton was a year ahead of Wilson in school and graduated from Jac-Cen-Del High School in 2021. He started with Long Electric in Indianapolis upon graduating, working on the Franciscan Health Orthopedic Center in Carmel and another hospital in Mooresville.


However, interior wiring wasn’t where he saw his future.


“I didn’t want to be stuck inside all the time and traveling to one job site for a couple years,” Sutton said. That would get old quickly.”


He’d already looked into becoming a lineman, and when Wilson invited him to join for a visit to NALTC in McEwen, Tennessee, it was a no-brainer.


“We really liked what they had to say, what they had to offer and how they shot us straight,” Sutton said. “We both applied and got in at the same time, and we’re pretty pleased with where we came out.”


Wilson came out with a job for MasTech, contracting to run fiber lines in Virginia.


It wasn’t where he expected to be halfway through his senior year at Jac-Cen-Del.


“I’d never really looked into it much,” he said. “I was always focused on construction management, moving up the ladder as a carpenter like my dad.


“A guy my dad worked with, his son was a lineman and loved it, so he suggested it would be a good career if I didn’t go into carpentry.”


Ryan Wilson receives his scholarship certificate from Andy McComas of the North American Lineman Training Center.


The idea of travel to help out with storms as well as the work itself grabbed Wilson’s attention.


“Working with tools and on poles, I was fascinated,” he said. “I didn’t have any idea what (being a lineman) was – it was brand new to me, but it interested me.”


Wilson had gotten a taste of the construction business, working with Blake Comer Buildings during the COVID break in school building pole barns as well as spending two summers making trusses for Wagner Truss.


With both cousins new to the utility industry, starting school came with some uncertainty.


“I was pretty nervous and didn’t know what to expect, but luckily I was going down there with my cousin, so we were able to room together,” Wilson said. “It was all brand-new and nerve-wracking, but it was well worth it.”


With Wilson on the road and Sutton back home, the cousins don’t see each other much right now. However, they remain in contact on almost a daily basis as they seek to make the most of the scholarships.


(The scholarship)’s really nice – help on paying for school, paying for a car, everything,” Wilson said. “I’ll put it to good use.”


Likewise for Sutton, who has a new appreciation for the cooperative model after working in his hometown for a couple of months.


“That’s sort of thing they teach in school about power coming from bigger distributor and how everybody was connected — I thought that was cool,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot by actually working in the field.”