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INL employees give back to their communities in numerous ways. Here, Kort Bowman, Elise Miller, Darla Miller, Julie Ulrich (hidden) and George Wood load Christmas gifts for more than 225 children as part of the Salvation Army's Angel Tree program.

Counting the ways INL gives back to eastern Idaho communities

By Lori Priest, INL Communications & Governmental Affairs

Idaho National Laboratory employees have a long history of charitable giving, and this year is no exception. From United Way donations to volunteer activities, employees' contributions in 2013 are benefiting their neighbors in the local communities and throughout the state.

  
   INL employees and INL contractor
   BEA donated more than $359,500 to
   this year's United Way drive.

During the holiday season, INL contractor Battelle Energy Alliance (BEA) supports the annual sitewide Christmas for Families program. This year, employees "adopted" 50 families to provide gifts for 175 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 also bought gifts for 225 children in the Salvation Army's Angel Tree program.

INL recently announced that employees contributed more than $304,500 to this year's United Way drive. BEA contributed $55,000 in corporate funds, making the total INL contribution $359,500. Since BEA took over operation of INL in 2005, employee contributions to the United Way have exceeded $2.75 million, and BEA has contributed an additional $475,000 in corporate donations.

Team INL

BEA also supports 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 completed nearly 300 Team INL projects, such as providing Christmas gifts each year for the teenagers living at The Haven transitional housing shelter, for several seniors through the Santa for Seniors program and to developmentally disadvantaged individuals living in local group homes.

  
A slideshow from the deck sealing
project at the Idaho Falls Friendship
Garden.
This year's Team INL employee volunteers also contributed to many projects. Here are a few highlights:
• Held a school supply donation drive to help area less-fortunate K-12 students.
• Helped with Dream Night at the Tautphaus Park Zoo (an event for chronically ill and disabled children and their immediate families).
• Collected 1,130 pairs of shoes for orphanages through the Dando Armor Shoes4Love program.
• Helped clean up and provide funding to repair/replace equipment at Tautphaus Park’s equal access playground.
• Sealed the entire deck at the Idaho Falls Friendship Garden project.
• Served as elves to area seniors at the Idaho Falls Senior Citizens Center Christmas luncheon.

Forty-six participants in INL's License to Lead program took part in four community service projects during 2013. These projects involved: 1) providing major cleanup, painting, repair and landscaping at one CLUB Inc. single family home, 2) landscaping at CLUB Inc. apartment complex housing for recovering alcoholics 3) painting and repair at the CLUB Inc. offices and 4) cleanup, major interior painting and carpentry work at The Development Workshop Inc. The volunteers spent 430 hours on the four projects.

In addition, License to Lead participants donated approximately $1,100 in cash and materials to facilitate the success of all projects. A major benefit of these projects is to build the network of leaders at INL, but more importantly to serve people in need in our local area. Many leaders become aware of the many needs and opportunities for service in our communities through these service projects.

Education Programs

INL's education programs office invested $349,950 in K-12 education initiatives to help more than 60,000 students throughout Idaho for Fiscal Year 2013. In addition, the lab awarded $19,000 worth of dual credit and college scholarships to high school students and $51,847 in mini grants and classroom makeover grants to 36 teachers across the state.

INL employees participated as both players and support volunteers in the Eastern Idaho Technical College Foundation's Great Race for Education fundraiser. This year, the event raised $40,000 for the foundation's scholarship fund. 

 
  Mini grants and classroom makeover
  grants from INL help improve science
  education throughout the state.

INL also sponsored several community-based science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education opportunities around the state, including career fairs, Science Extravaganzas, water awareness events, Family STEM Nights, Idaho Aerospace Scholars program, EITC summer camps, Native American STEM Exploration Day, Tournament of Innovation, robotics programs, the Boise State University Engineering Expo and several other events.

BEA provides corporate funding for the Governor's Industry Award for Notable Teaching in STEM (GIANTS). Since 2010, through its partnership with Idaho's i-STEM initiative, BEA has provided professional STEM development to more than 1,750 teachers.

BEA provides high school students and K-12 teacher summer internships. INL hosted the annual Eastern Idaho Science Bowl Competition reaching 125 students in 17 area schools. Combined with other statewide partners, this regional event reached 390 students from 51 schools. The annual competition tests high school student's knowledge of science and math while providing excitement and enthusiasm about STEM careers and future workforce needs at INL.

Technical Assistance Program

Each year, the INL technical assistance program (TAP) provides technical expertise to state and local governments, and regional small businesses. The requesting organization can receive, at no cost, up to 40 hours of laboratory employee time to address technical needs that cannot readily be met by commercially available resources in the region.
 
INL's TAP program is a federally-mandated program authorizing INL to share knowledge and specialized equipment to be used to promote U.S. competitiveness. Through TAP, INL scientists and engineers can provide limited, free assistance that is not commercially available in the region to benefit a community or small business. During the past nine years, INL has dedicated more than 8,140 hours to TAP projects. Select projects for 2013 include:

  

INL employees Lori Williamson and
Dawn Fisher load 1,130 pairs of shoes
for orphanages through the Dando Amor
Shoes4Love program.

• A small business conference on available cybersecurity resources helped reduce vulnerability. 
• A subsurface investigation using geophysical survey equipment supported criminal forensic searches for law enforcement. 
• Fabrication expertise provided glass test tubes for a special chemical engineering experiment.
• Analysis of data and geophysical locations for proposed landfill expansion aided decision making relative to Holcene faults and seismic impact zones.

Philanthropic Programs

Since the BEA contract began in February 2005, BEA has provided nearly $8 million in corporate funding to numerous educational, philanthropic and technology-based economic development programs. BEA provides funding to Help Inc., The Soup Kitchen, Idaho Falls Rescue Mission, The Shepherd's Inn, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Southeast Idaho, The Salvation Army, Idaho Falls Senior Community Center, The Haven, Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center, and numerous 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 six years to support more than 100 agencies and programs.

"I am very proud to work for a company that cares about being a good corporate citizen," said Lori Priest, INL's community relations coordinator. "We will continue to do our part to support education programs, find avenues to help the less fortunate and support the economic development of the state."

(Posted Dec. 23, 2013)

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