Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) representatives Melissa Garrard (with photo) and Jerry Holloway (third from left) accept the Corporate Community Impact award from two Tri-City Regional Chamber representatives at the Chamber’s annual meeting in late March. The award goes to the company providing the most financial support to the Chamber during the past year. WRPS was cited for its establishment and ongoing support of three programs that assist regional businesses. The Small Business Incentive Program awards $30,000 annually to businesses for training, equipment or website development; an annual Women in Business Conference provides a day of professional development activities, and the Meet the Buyer program offers quarterly sessions where local business officials can learn of potential sales opportunities from procurement officials from major government and private companies. More than 550 attended the event.
Dr. Stephanie Doll, WRPS Process Chemistry at the 222-S Laboratory, represented the company recently at the annual STEM Explorers Conference, which immerses students in the world of science, technology, engineering and math. Doll was one of about 20 professionals who used the forum to share work experiences and conduct interactive workshops.
Doll provided students the “full Hanford scientist experience,” teaching them about appropriate personal protective equipment, radiation detection and radioactive material handling. Students dressed out in coveralls, shoe covers and gloves; wore a “security” badge, chest dosimeter and finger ring dosimeters; manipulated blocks inside of a glove bag; engineered methods to transport pretend-radioactive ping-pong balls; and used Geiger counters to detect everyday radioactive items like Fiestaware, Vaseline glass and lantern mantles.
“Most K-12 schools don’t have the resources available to teach students about nuclear science. This leads to students pursuing other careers and feeling uneasy around the word ‘nuclear,’” Doll said. “As a radiochemist, I feel a certain responsibility and privilege to educate our future leaders, visionaries and scholars in a positive and engaging environment. Being able to present at the STEM Explorers Conference allowed me to engage the students with hands-on activities.”
More than 300 middle school students from Pasco, Sunnyside and Granger participated in the event at Pasco’s Columbia Basin College.
WRPS Project Integration team members came together to make the season a little brighter for four local families by collecting gifts and other items.
In conjunction with the Salvation Army’s Adopt-A-Family program, WRPS employees filled seven shopping carts with presents and purchased four $100 Winco gift cards to provide holiday meals. Four families—27 individuals—will benefit from the goodwill and generosity of this volunteer effort.
“Many individuals in my life have had to rely on organizations like the Salvation Army in time of need, and it is wonderful to see people pass it forward,” said WRPS Single-Shell Tank Retrieval Project Controls Manager Nathan Morgan. “I applaud your selfless efforts and thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Gifts were collected in just two short weeks and were given to the families in time for Christmas.
It’s almost uncanny how quickly a group of volunteers converges on the Kennewick Elks Lodge, and—in a flurry of paper and strings—wraps a collection of gifts intended for unexpecting recipients. But, every year—like clockwork—it happens.
“It goes pretty fast,” said WRPS Contractor Assurance Manager Mike Peloquin. “Get that many people in a room and it’s a flurry of activity and ugly Christmas sweaters.”
Each year, the Tri-Cities Elks Lodge #2755 adopts local families in need and provides a little holiday cheer in the form of gifts, food and other items. WRPS contributes a modest amount to the effort to help offset costs. Additionally, a local private company, AEM Consulting, joins the Elks about a week before Christmas to wrap and label each gift. The annual event has become known as the “Snack and Wrap.”
“The donations of corporate sponsors like WRPS and AEM magnify the ability of volunteers to perform the tasks necessary to improve our community and our ability to help one another,” Peloquin said. “This program has brought together several organizations from across the Tri-City area, which would not have been possible without their sponsorship.”
“Who can resist wrapping gifts for children and their families?” said Dennis Washenfelder, AEM Senior Chemical Engineer Task for WRPS.
It’s a true community effort. The Elks receive toys from the annual toy drive, sponsored by Eagle 106.5 FM and Ranch and Home. In return, the Elks help assemble bikes and toys, and help sort and stage the gifts for distribution to other community organizations.
In any given year, up to a dozen families benefit from the gifts of food, kitchen supplies, health care products, laundry soap, towels, toothpaste, toothbrushes, linens and bedding. Children receive clothes, coats, hats, socks, art kits and toys.
“This annual event is just one of the many community outreach programs supported by the Elks,” said Kirk Peterson, WRPS Performance Assurance. “Watching my 11-year-old daughter’s energy in helping others and seeing the resulting smiles on the families’ faces as we delivered the baskets was priceless.”
“My daughter and I attend the Snack and Wrap at the Elks every year,” said Jeanne Bernards, AEM Principal Engineer on System Planning and Modeling Support Task for WRPS. “It’s a great way to give to the community, and we really enjoy spending the time with my colleagues and their families. It’s also a wonderful opportunity for my daughter to experience how giving in a small way can make a difference for local children and families in need.”
WRPS employees serving as Elks’ members or officers include WRPS One System ESH&Q Manager Jack Donnelly, Chairman of the Board, Peloquin, Peterson and Jerry Heaney, WRPS One System Quality Assurance.
“This is my favorite event of the year,” Donnelly said. “Delivering the baskets of gifts, food and essential needs personally—and seeing how it makes a difference—is a treasure. Working with so many people to make this happen is powerful, and it is a primary reason I am an Elk member. I appreciate WRPS and AEM for supporting this cause.”
The Elks Lodge is a fraternal order and social club founded in 1868. It is one of the leading fraternal orders in the U.S., claiming nearly one million members.
“My wife and I take great pleasure raising money throughout the year to support the Elks’ family Christmas basket event,” Heaney said. “The looks on the faces of those receiving the gifts and care packages is precious.”
For the second straight year, WRPS Contractor Assurance employees donated a day off to help build bikes for disadvantaged children.
WRPS volunteers joined about 600 others, including 400 area high school students, at the sixth annual Bikes for Tykes volunteer build at the Benton County Fairgrounds in Kennewick. The project was organized by the Local 598 Plumbers and Steamfitters union. WRPS contributed $600 to the project.
At the end of the day, when they stood back to admire their handiwork, more than 1,550 bikes were ready to load into Santa’s sleigh.
“I arrived early to a sea of boxes and no bikes, and by the time I left it was a sea of bikes and no boxes,” said Steve Swenning, one of seven WRPS employees to participate. Others included Contractor Assurance Manager Mike Peloquin, Kirk Peterson, Jen Kraus, Shaun Waters, Alex Torres and Robert Anderson.
“The community support for this event is amazing,” Peloquin said. “Everyone was very focused on the different tasks needed to assemble these bikes. I looked up to see a continuous line of completed bicycles being removed from the workstations. The enthusiasm for the holiday stayed with me all weekend.”
Once complete, a number of the bikes were turned over to the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots program and the remainder to other community agencies for delivery to local children this holiday season.
“What a team experience and community success story,” Peterson said. “It’s amazing what volunteers towards a common goal can accomplish.”
The bikes—and a helmet to accompany each one—will be distributed throughout the region in time for Christmas.
“This is my second year and just as much fun,” Kraus said. “Even though we are working hard, the room is filled with so much holiday cheer it’s like we’re hardly working.”
“I want to be in manufacturing when I grow up” is not something you hear from most girls, but local organizations are working together to change that perception. In fact, manufacturing is an in-demand career open to all genders.
Recently, more than 100 high school students from the Tri-City areas participated in the GLAM event. The event was hosted by the Tri-City Development Council and Columbia Basin College, and WRPS participated as a key sponsor.
“It’s not a field that is talked about to girls,” said geologist Frannie Smith, who served as a mentor at the Girls Learning About Manufacturing (GLAM) event.
The main lesson during the interactive event taught the girls to make toys for specific audiences. Through inception to production, the girls were exposed to different career opportunities in the manufacturing industry.
2015 Small Business Incentive Grant recipients were announced last week at the Regional Tri-City Chamber’s monthly meeting. WRPS funds the program that provides up to $2,000 in individual grants to local small businesses with needs in training, equipment or website development. More than 30 businesses received grants.
The day consisted of a presentation by WSUTC students benefiting from WRPS grants and a panel discussion about technology, the Hanford Site and how it applies from college to work field. WRPS’ Doug Greenwell, Mike Latteri, Mark Tavelli, and Rob Gregory participated in the discussion.
The WSUTC students are using WRPS grants for projects such as developing a 3D printed prosthetic arm, using bacteria to treat hydrothermal liquefaction, and studying the implications of thyroid levels on skull development of the Zebra fish which has human implications.
RICHLAND, Wash. – Tri-City area students, from grade school through college, will benefit from $127,000 in contributions announced today by Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS), the Hanford tank operations contractor.
The money will be used to strengthen and expand K-12, college and community science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-related programs.
The Mid-Columbia STEM Education Network (MCSEN) will receive $50,000:
- $30,000 to support events that celebrate our region as a national leader in STEM literacy and to recruit volunteers to conduct STEM programs that link students with mentors and role models. These programs include: “STEM Like Me!” a program that encourages students to consider STEM careers. Through personal interactions with STEM professionals, middle school students are inspired to envision themselves in the shoes of a STEM professional.
- $20,000 for STEM-related education activities at the REACH and the local Boys & Girls Club. Through the MCSEN, these funds will provide additional staff and equipment to support currently underrepresented populations including minorities and women.
WSU Tri-Cities will receive $50,000 in STEM scholarships and STEM faculty support.
Columbia Basin College will receive $27,000 to complete the purchase of new equipment for its Nuclear Technology Program and provide STEM-related scholarships.
“WRPS recognizes the need for more students to become interested in STEM careers. There’s an increasing demand for workers in science and technology fields, in the Tri-Cities, in Washington and our country. If we’re to compete globally, we need more STEM-educated students,” said James Taylor, an AECOM senior executive who made the announcement on behalf of WRPS. AECOM is the majority owner of WRPS with Energy Solutions and AREVA being the other team members.
“WRPS is excited about helping the Mid-Columbia STEM network extend its impact in this region, especially in serving underrepresented students. It’s a great addition to WRPS’ ongoing support of STEM-related activities at WSU Tri-Cities and Columbia Basin College,” Taylor said.
“We are grateful for WRPS’ generous gift and their vision in helping to position the Mid-Columbia as a national leader in STEM literacy. The Tri-Cities was named one of the top regions in the nation for STEM jobs but, unfortunately, too few of our students see STEM’s power or possibilities. WRPS is having a real impact by providing not only these much needed funds, but also through the exceptional WRPS employees who generously donate their time to help young people experience STEM in action,” reports Deb Bowen, Executive Director of the Washington State STEM Education Foundation and the Mid-Columbia STEM Network.
WRPS, owned by AECOM and EnergySolutions, with integrated subcontractor AREVA, is a prime contractor to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of River Protection and is responsible for managing and reducing the risk posed by the waste stored in Hanford’s underground tanks.
Washington State STEM Education Foundation and Mid-Columbia STEM Network
The Washington State STEM Education Foundation incorporated in 2009 with a vision of becoming a national model for generating passionate support for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math in Public Education: Every Student, Every Day. The non-profit’s first project was to support the launch of Delta High School, and now has expanded the scope of work to enhance projects that create a substantial and sustainable impact on the quality of STEM education across the Mid-Columbia.
The Mid-Columbia STEM Network was launched in 2014. The Network is one of a number of STEM Networks being developed across our state under the leadership of Washington STEM. STEM networks comprise education, business and community leaders who are committed to sharing promising practices and strengthening the STEM pipeline. For more information, including links to outstanding volunteer opportunities in our region visit: WashingtonSTEMeducation.org