Logan Wilson and Christopher Hollen knew what they wanted.
It took just one click and one visit to figure out how to get it.
The duo were sold on The North American Lineman Training Center in McEwen, Tennessee, which delivered everything they expected and more.
The more includes Wilson and Hollen being named the 2024 recipients of the W. Eugene Roberts and Daniel L. Schuckman Memorial Scholarships from Hoosier Energy.
“I was dumbfounded really – I didn’t expect to win,” Wilson said. “I realized hard work pays off and does get noticed by the instructors.”
Hollen felt similarly.
“I was definitely thrilled like anyone would be,” he said. “I feel like I showed a commitment to learning and was involved and wanting to learn. It’s a rewarding feeling that the hard work paid off.”
Hard work is familiar for Hollen, who grew up on a 150-acre cattle farm about five miles outside of Liberty as a member of Whitewater Valley REMC. But he didn’t see his future in farming.
“I actually did think I might farm for a while, but as I talked with my dad about it, we realized that farming today wouldn’t get me where I wanted to go with my goals in life,” he said.
But on the way to school every day, Hollen passed the REMC and saw the big trucks, putting the thought of becoming a lineman in his mind. As a sophomore at Union County High School, he studied electricity at the career center in Connersville, fueling the idea of a career in the power industry.
Once he decided farming wasn’t in his future, the focus turned to researching lineman schools. Hollen visited one in Cincinnati, which he thought would be a good fit not far from home.
However, he decided to go ahead and visit the NALTC in Tennessee.
“I was blown away,” Hollen said. “They talked lineman stuff, but beyond that they talked about building your character, how to get a job, finances – it all really intrigued me.”
Five minutes into the seven-hour drive home, Hollen decided that was where he would go to school.
“It was obvious that was where I needed to be,” he said.
The decision would turn out to be just as obvious for Wilson, who grew up in Elnora as a member of Daviess-Martin County REMC.
Wilson got his work experience in a lawncare business started by his older brother, which he continued along with his twin brother.
By his senior year of high school, Wilson knew he wanted to work outside. Doing what, he wasn’t sure.
While he was watching YouTube one day, a video about a lineman popped up.
“I clicked on it, it looked interesting and I decided to start looking at schools,” Wilson said.
Not knowing where to start, Wilson simply typed “top lineman schools” into his search. The first one to pop up was NALTC.
“I didn’t have any idea what to look for, but I kept reading about it and thought it would be a good fit,” he said. “It was the only one I looked at and then I went to it.”
It was a decision he did not regret. As a matter of fact, his twin brother will be attending next semester, making Wilson a trendsetter for his family and his school.
“You could make the argument every class was a life class, but climbing class was the most beneficial,” he said. “Once you can climb efficiently, it makes every other task easier. I’d say another big one would be the finance stuff that Andy (McComas, Institutional Director) talked about. It puts in perspective how saving early leads to a better future and an easier retirement.”
Now Wilson and Hollen are looking forward to putting what they learned into practice. Wilson is mulling a pair of offers in telecommunications while still hoping to land a job in the power industry. Either way, he likes the future he sees.
“I won’t be sitting down, and I get to be active all day,” Wilson said. “I get to see the product I produce, and I’ve always liked the satisfaction of a job well done. I’ve also played basketball since I could walk, so I still get to be with a team of guys every day.”
Hollen feels much the same as he waits to see what comes of applications to AES in Indianapolis and AEP Ohio while looking for local cooperative or municipality openings.
“In this field, you’re outside every day in new environments, solving new problems, using your brain but not doing the same thing every day,” Hollen said. “You also get the benefit of helping people in the community. It will be satisfying to see lights on because I did that work. It’s a good feeling helping people.”