partnering stronger communities

tackling global environmental issues for healthier communities
Finding solutions to climate change, both within our operations and externally, is something we take very seriously at Alcoa.

Alcoa employees and community members from Alcoa communities are about to learn first hand how to help our planet’s sustainability.

For the eighth year, the Alcoa Foundation has partnered with Earthwatch to sponsor opportunities for 15 employees to participate in ecological research projects around the world.  For the first time this year, the Alcoa Foundation is also providing 12 Earthwatch Community Fellowships for local community leaders.

Alcoa Earthwatch Fellowships offer the chance to work alongside leading scientists and researchers from the Earthwatch Institute. 

Founded in 1971, Earthwatch’s mission is to engage people worldwide in scientific field research and to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment.

Two Aussie Alcoans have secured spots this year, Megan LeRoy from Alcoa’s Huntly Mine in WA and Lisa Mills from Alcoa’s Anglesea operation in Victoria.

Megan will travel to the Czech Republic, collecting water samples and taking pH, conductivity and oxygen readings from streams and reservoirs in the Jizera Mountains that have been damaged by acid rain.  She will also help catch and examine reintroduced fish and sample other aquatic organisms.  Hiking through beech and spruce forests, she will evaluate tree vitality, collect soil and vegetation samples, and study erosion and plant succession. 

“The range of the Jizera Mountains is a part of the so-called “Black Triangle” – the epicentre of air pollution and acid precipitation in Europe. The aim of this project is to contribute to the recovery of these mountain ecosystems,” Megan said.

“Protecting the environment is something I am passionate about which, combined with my love of travel and meeting new and interesting people, makes this opportunity a 'dream come true'.

“I am committed to making my world a greener place by, not only working as an environmental researcher for Alcoa, but by making positive changes at home such as using renewable energy, recycling, vege gardening, shopping locally etc.

“I am very excited to be given this opportunity to make a difference in improving the health of our planet. And to do so in a place in the world so far removed from the comforts at home makes this adventure so much more appealing. 

“This expedition will broaden my horizons and expand my mind, and I’ll get to see first hand the environmental damage that I would have once read about in a university text book. 

“Above all, I hope to gain confidence that the small changes we make will help create a better world to live in,” Megan said.

Lisa Mills from Alcoa Anglesea has also been granted an Earthwatch fellowship.

“I’m heading off to Gazi Bay in Kenya to rehabilitate degraded mangrove forests,” she said.

“In addition to planting mangrove seedlings on the two beach sites, I will also help monitor the effects of these plantations on rates of beach erosion and on the animals, particularly crabs and fish dependent on them.”

Lisa said she’s most looking forward to seeing the hands on side of environmental research.

“At work I am constantly working on several projects at once, so to be able to concentrate solely on one project will be a luxury!

“This project sounds so interesting and aligned to my role at Alcoa – it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Lisa said.

Each year Alcoa is overwhelmed by employees, from Alcoa’s operations around the globe, wanting to take part in this unique opportunity with Earthwatch. 

“I work in the environmental field and completed my PhD a few years ago.  I have actually applied for Earthwatch every year since I began working for Alcoa (7 years) and this year happened to be my lucky year!

Community leaders from Australia have secured three of the 12 spots. Congratulations to:

  • Rowan MacKenzie, Environmental Manager Surf Coast Shire; 
  • Thelma Cook, Greening Australia WA; 
  • Bridget Ure, Water Conservation Officer, Barwon Water.
Bridget Ure from Barwon Water said: “I try to live my life in an ethically sustainable way and seek opportunities to be involved and contribute to positive environmental change. To be chosen is an honour - I go on trips often, but I have never done something like this before.”

Bridget said she’s looking forward to reconnecting with nature: “Being in a position to make a positive contribution to environmental research is something I could only ever have dreamed of … and now it’s a reality!”

“I want to thank the Alcoa Foundation immensely for this opportunity - I’m sure I don’t even know yet how this will change or affect my life,” she said.

The Foundation’s partnership with the Earthwatch Institute, which since 2003 has helped 94 Alcoa employees to volunteer more than 6,800 research hours toward solving critical sustainability issues, is just one of many global and local outreach programs supported by Alcoa and Alcoa Foundation to address environmental sustainability.

In the past three years, Alcoa Foundation has invested more than $26 million to inform public policy, build community capacity and awareness, and mobilize individual action on global climate change.

2010 expeditions take place from 10 June – 10 August and projects include:
supporting youth in peel and the south-west
Alcoa has announced two new partnerships aimed at youth in the Peel and South-West regions of WA.

Pinjarra Refinery, Wagerup Refinery and our WA Mining Group have together invested $10,000 to ‘Youth Focus’ which aims to prevent youth suicide.  The organisation provides support for young people between the ages of 12 and 18, as well as their families, who show early signs of depression, self harm and suicide.

Young people are linked with local high schools and medical service providers which offer necessary support including therapeutic youth counselling, family therapy, peer support program, group work and mentoring.

The Billy Dower Youth Centre has received an additional $20,000, from Pinjarra Refinery, which will go towards its ‘Life Skills’ Programme that aims to build confidence and self-esteem in young people. The goal is to help develop these young people into contributing members of the community.  The Billy Downer Youth Centre programs have a proven track record of success, with its mentees volunteering in the community, being nominated for leadership awards and re-engaging with education.

Pinjarra Refinery Manager, Armando Torres, said both partnerships align with one of Alcoa’s core community values to support stronger and healthy communities.” 

yarloop community grants program strikes again
The recent Harvey Agricultural Show in the South-West of WA received a boost, thanks in part to Alcoa’s Yarloop Community grants program.

On show in the main arena were brand new horse jumps, loaned for the day by the Yarloop based Log Fence Pony Club. 

Alcoa’s Yarloop Community Grants Program recently funded an upgrade of the Pony Club which included the purchase of the new horse jumps.

Alcoa funding provided through the Yarloop Community Grants Program is administered in partnership with the Shire of Harvey to benefit not-for-profit groups based in the Yarloop region.

Pony Club President, Dean Maughan, said: “When the Harvey Show needed jumps for its arena events, we were happy to make them available and they looked a treat.”

Wagerup Community Relations Manager, Tom Busher, said: “It’s been good to assist the Log Fence Pony Club as it’s a great sporting activity that whole families in our region are involved.  One of the great things about the Pony Club is that it teaches young people about responsibility.”

A second round of funding, under Alcoa’s Yarloop Community Grants Program, will be made available this year.

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Megan LeRoy

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Lisa Mills

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Community Earthwatch Fellow Bridget Ure of Barwon Water in Victoria

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Youth Focus’ Amanda Moore with Eugenio Azevedo (Wagerup Refinery Manager), Armando Torres (Pinjarra Refinery Manager), Bill Knight (Manager of Mines) and cyclists participating in the Annual Hawaiian Ride, which raises funds for Youth Focus. Scroll down for full story.

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Harvey Agricultural Show. Scroll down for full story.