Idaho National Laboratory employees are not only talented in their professions, but also incredibly committed to their communities. And that commitment is evidenced once again by their generous support to the communities where they live and work. From United Way donations to countless volunteer activities, employee contributions in 2015 made the communities better places to be.
During the holiday season, the U.S. Department of Energy’s INL contractor Battelle Energy Alliance (BEA) supported the annual sitewide Christmas for Families program. This year, employees “adopted” 70 families to provide gifts for 232 children from Arco, Mackay, Howe, Roberts, Pocatello, Rigby, Ririe, Menan, Idaho Falls, Blackfoot and Shelley. BEA donated $4,000 toward food boxes for each family. Employees at INL and the primary cleanup contractor, CH2M-WG Idaho, also bought gifts for 250 children in the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program.
INL recently announced that employees contributed more than $303,770 to this year’s United Way drive. BEA contributed $55,000 in corporate funds, making the total INL contribution $358,770 – an increase of $65,000 from 2014. Since BEA took over operation of INL in 2005, employee contributions to the United Way have totaled over $3 million, and BEA has contributed nearly $600,000 in corporate donations.
Because the future of INL relies on the next generation of scientists and engineers who will conduct cutting-edge research and invent new technologies, BEA provides corporate funding to support K-12 education in Idaho. In 2015, INL’s Education Programs office invested $300,000 in K through 12 education initiatives to help more than 60,000 students and 2,000 teachers throughout Idaho in Fiscal Year 2015.
K-12 programs provided students with the opportunity to solve real-world problems, to learn about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers, and to prepare for those jobs. BEA sponsored several student outreach events such as the middle school and high school STEM Days at INL, career fairs, and family STEM nights in our local K-12 schools and community, along with i-STEM teacher professional development opportunities across Idaho. BEA also provides corporate funding for teacher professional development, classroom STEM classroom mini grants and makeover grants, and student scholarships.
Technical Assistance Program
INL’s TAP works to enhance the entrepreneurial climate for emerging high-technology enterprises by broadly deploying laboratory capabilities and technologies. TAP’s contribution to strengthening and growing the region is to offer technical assistance for up to 40 hours of support that is not available from the private sector in the region. TAP offers highly skilled experts and laboratory resources to the region. Between 2005 and 2015, TAP has sponsored 8,860 hours of assistance to entrepreneurs, small businesses, and rural communities. During the past year, INL has dedicated more than 304 hours to nine TAP projects focused on increasing INL’s goodwill and community outreach through projects that intersect and support the Laboratory’s mission areas. Select TAP projects from FY 2015 include:
Proximate and ultimate analysis was performed by INL’s Biomass Feedstock Characterization team on Owahyee County Juniper to potentially turn an invasive species into an economic product. Juniper is an invasive species that is encroaching on the rangelands of southern Idaho, destroying natural habitat of the sage grouse, and impacting the available grazing areas.
Grand Teton National Park received 40 hours of support from INL’s Mitchell Plummer to work with park service staff and software developers to share glacier simulator and climate change impact over large time steps. The animated video will be used educate visitors to Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park.
Hydrocore, Inc., received 40 hours of support from INL’s Nick Soelberg to provide a technical feasibility review. The review focused on Hydrocore’s novel method of generating a syngas with a submerged electric arc furnace from waste materials such as municipal solid waste with the potential benefit to enhance the commercial deployment rate of the technology.
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 over 400 Team INL projects, such as providing Christmas gifts each year for the teenagers living at The Haven transitional housing shelter, for several low income seniors and for developmentally disadvantaged individuals living in the community.
This year’s Team INL employee volunteers also contributed to many area projects. Here are a just a few highlights:
Helped kids dealing with cancer enjoy the rappelling wall at the Camp Magical Moments, a weeklong event in Swan Valley, Idaho ,
Held a school supply donation drive to help area less-fortunate K-12 students, and
Helped with Dream Night at the Tautphaus Park Zoo (an event for chronically ill and disabled children and their immediate families).
Provided 60 volunteers to help with the Rotary of Idaho Falls project, Helping Hands for Haiti. With the help of Team INL and 190 other community volunteers, 500,000 meals were packaged in four hours for delivery to Haiti (with 10% of the food going to the Idaho Falls Giving Basket food bank.)
Participants in INL’s License to Lead management development program took part in two community service projects during 2015. These projects involved providing major cleanup, painting, repair and fixing safety issues at the Idaho Falls YMCA. Special emphasis was directed to the childcare sections of the YMCA facilities. The License to Lead volunteers spent about 300 hours on these two projects.
In addition to the labor and expertise, donations from INL/BEA and local businesses, License to Lead participants personally donated an additional $1,000 in cash and materials to make these projects successful. A major benefit from these service projects is to build the network of leaders at INL, more importantly the projects serve people in need in the local area. Leaders become aware of the many needs and opportunities for service in communities through these service projects.
Since its contract began in February 2005, BEA has provided nearly $9 million in corporate funding to numerous educational, philanthropic and technology-based economic development programs. BEA provided funding to Help Inc., The Soup Kitchen, Idaho Falls Rescue Mission, The Shepherd’s Inn, The Salvation Army, Idaho Falls Senior Community Center, The Haven, Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center, YMCA, FREEMED, Bright Tomorrows Child Advocacy Center, CASA programs, Bingham Crisis Center, Idaho Foodbank, Health West, Lost River Medical Center Foundation, Aid for Friends, Special Olympics and nonprofit agencies that feed, clothe or provide shelter and services to the less fortunate in surrounding communities. INL funds philanthropic projects that focus on community, health and human services, and culture. In total, more than $1.6 million in corporate funding has been given throughout the past nine years to support more than 100 agencies and programs.
“I am very proud to work for a company that is a good corporate citizen and cares about the local needs,” said Lori Priest, INL’s community relations lead. “I’m also proud that our employees are so generous to help 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.”