For more than 60 years, in good times and bad, Idaho National Laboratory and its employees have shown themselves to be an invaluable source of support in their communities. Their commitment has been evident for all to see in the countless volunteer hours they have devoted to community-based organizations, especially the financial support they have provided to United Way agencies in eastern and central Idaho.
The 2016 INL United Way campaign was a huge success, bringing in more than $406,000 to support the three area United Way agencies and the nonprofit organizations they support, along with 18 additional write-in agencies.
The lab’s campaign leaders set a goal of $376,000 and beat it by nearly $30,000. In total, the United Way campaign raised $393,034, and the write-in option amounted to another $13,000. Battelle Energy Alliance, which operates INL under a contract with the U.S. Department of Energy, contributed $55,000 in corporate funds, boosting the total to $406,041.
Since BEA took over operation of INL in 2005, employee contributions to the United Way have totaled more than $3.5 million, and BEA has contributed more than $650,000 in corporate donations.
At the 2016 Holiday Reception on Dec. 6, INL Director Mark Peters presented the United Way of Idaho Falls and Bonneville County with a check for $307,668. The United Way of Southeastern Idaho, based in Pocatello, was slated for $75,895, while $9,471 was sent to the United Way of South Central Idaho, which supports Butte County.
During the holiday season, BEA supported the annual Christmas for Families program. This year, employees “adopted” 61 families to provide gifts for 211 children from Arco, Mackay, Howe, Roberts, Pocatello, Rigby, Ririe, Menan, Idaho Falls, Blackfoot and Shelley. INL/BEA and the primary Idaho Cleanup Project contractor, Fluor Idaho, donated $2,500 apiece toward food boxes for each family. Employees at INL and Fluor Idaho also bought gifts for 225 children in the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program.
INL is always conscious that young people are the scientists and engineers of the future, people who will conduct cutting-edge research and develop innovative new technologies. To this end, BEA provides generous corporate funding to support education in eastern Idaho’s primary and secondary schools. In 2016, INL’s Education Programs office invested $300,000 in K-12 education initiatives, helping more than 70,000 students and 4,000 teachers throughout Idaho.
These programs provided students with the opportunity to solve real-world problems, learn about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers, and prepare for STEM-related jobs. INL sponsored several student outreach events, including middle school and high school STEM Days at INL and the Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES), career fairs, and family STEM nights in local schools. On the professional end, INL helped fund STEM opportunities for teachers across Idaho. These included corporate funding for teacher professional development, STEM classroom minigrants and makeover grants, and student scholarships.
Technical Assistance Program
INL’s Technical Assistance Program works to foster job creation and enhance the entrepreneurial climate for emerging innovation-based businesses. This is done by offering technical assistance of up to 40 hours, providing support and technical expertise not available in a region’s local private sector (this precludes INL from competing with local businesses).
Between 2005 and 2016, TAP sponsored 9,100 hours of assistance to entrepreneurs and small businesses. During the past year, INL dedicated 240 hours to six TAP projects, building goodwill and community outreach through projects that intersect and support the laboratory’s mission areas.
Select TAP projects from 2016 include:
- Lincoln County, Nevada – INL researchers evaluated biomass potential for land managers and performed biofeedstock, proximate and ultimate testing.
- MJ3 Graphite Battery – Small Business Innovation Research support for new battery electrode development.
- Chief Dull Knife College, Lame Deer, Mont. – Tire pyrolysis waste-to-energy project with aim of understanding the value chain from harvesting of tires from the dump, transporting to a pyrolysis process location, and finally the sale of byproducts such as kerosene, diesel fuel and metals.
- PRIMO Farms, Aberdeen, Idaho – Biofeedstock, proximate and ultimate testing to develop a new market for high-protein feed based on ability to harvest, dry and densify the feedstock.
- Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, Fort Hall, Idaho – INL geophysical equipment was used for subsurface detections.
BEA also supported the community through its Team INL employee volunteer program, which provides small amounts of funding to help employees make a difference in their communities. The funding is often used to purchase building materials, paint, essential items and clothing.
Since 2005, BEA employees and volunteer groups have supported more than 450 Team INL projects, donating Christmas gifts each year to teenagers living at The Haven transitional housing shelter, low-income seniors, and developmentally disadvantaged individuals in the community.
Team INL provided support to 35 projects this year. Here are a few…
- Provided support to Arco Cleanup Days.
- Acted as judges for area elementary school science fairs.
- Provided new flooring and shelving for the Ashton Flea Market thrift store.
- Conducted a glove, coat and hat drive for those in need through Eastern Idaho Community Action Partnership, and household goods for the residents living at The Haven Shelter.
- Summer interns provided shade for the dogs at Snake River Animal Shelter by inserting vinyl slats into the chain link fencing.
- Supported Camp Magic Moments, a weeklong event in Swan Valley, Idaho, helping children with cancer enjoy the rappelling wall.
- Offered assistance at Dream Night at Tautphaus Park, an event for chronically ill and disabled children and their immediate families.
License to Lead
Participants in INL’s License to Lead leadership development program took part in three community service projects in 2016. One project involved providing major cleanup, painting, repair and safety hazard remediation at the Idaho Falls YMCA, with special emphasis on the building’s child care sections. A second project took place at the Shepherd’s Inn Pregnancy Resource Center in Idaho Falls, where participants made many needed improvements, installing pavers to expand the patio area, repairing and staining 180 feet of cedar fencing, xeriscaping around the facility, and completing major cleanup and landscaping. A third project was done at the Idaho Falls Development Workshop, where participants painted door frames and doors, and assembled some new electronic display boards. In all, License to Lead volunteers spent about 480 hours on these three projects.
In addition to the labor, expertise and donations from INL/BEA and local businesses, License to Lead participants personally donated money and materials to make their projects successful. The participants take great initiative to make things better for those in need. While the top priority will always be serving people in need, a major benefit from these ongoing service projects is the development of a network of leaders at INL. License to Lead graduates have completed 45 community service projects in the last nine years.
Since 2005, BEA has provided over $9 million in corporate funding to numerous educational, philanthropic and technology-based economic development programs. These included Idaho Falls Soup Kitchen, Idaho Falls Rescue Mission, The Shepherd’s Inn, Idaho Falls Senior Community Center, The Haven Shelter, Idaho Falls Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center, YMCA, FREEMED, Bright Tomorrows Child Advocacy Center, CASA programs, Idaho Falls Community Food Basket, and Health West. INL helps fund philanthropic programs that focus on community, health, human services, culture and the humanities. In total, more than $1.8 million has been given in the past decade to support more than 85 agencies and programs.
In 2016, Team INL participated in the Great Race for Education, Eastern Idaho Technical College’s annual July fundraiser that helps fund student scholarships. It fielded a team at the inaugural Adult Spelling Bee to benefit the Idaho Falls School District 91 Education Foundation.
“I am very proud to work for a company that is such a good corporate citizen and cares so much about local needs,” said Lori Priest, INL’s community relations lead. “I’m also proud that our employees are so dedicated to helping meet the needs of our community. They are always willing to step up and give of their resources, time and talents to help with Team INL projects.”