September 03, 2019
Alcoa Employees to Return to Andorran Pyrenees to Build on Climate Change Research With Earthwatch
BOSTON -- For its second year, Alcoa Foundation selected eight Alcoa employees to study the sustainability and the effects of climate change in Andorra with Earthwatch Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to connecting citizens with scientists to conduct conservation research worldwide. Called Alcoa Earthwatch Fellows, these individuals are part of a unique professional development program that Alcoa Foundation has run with Earthwatch since 2003. The fellows will work alongside researchers on Earthwatch’s Wildlife in the Changing Andorran Pyrenees expedition from September 7-13 and will help to measure how climate change and human encroachment are impacting mountain ecosystems, building on the important body of work that the 2018 class of Earthwatch Fellows contributed to last year.
While in the field, the fellows will collect data, help to identify and measure key alpine species, monitor camera traps, track biodiversity, collect tree growth data, and survey how snow is impacting vegetation. They will also participate in facilitated learning sessions that will support a post-fielding sustainable action plan in their workplace or community.
During these sessions, the fellows learn about the science behind climate change and how their individual and collective actions can impact our environment. Each fellow then develops their own project that engages their peers and community members in sustainability initiatives. Fellows also lead volunteering events that benefit their local environment as well as present to their community on their experience in the field.
After returning from this experience, past fellows have gone on to develop and improve recycling programs, implemented waste reduction systems, and established wildlife conservation and education projects. Alcoa Technical Specialist Donna Herum, a 2018 fellow from Indiana, developed a supplier packaging reduction plan to decrease waste. She was able to get one of the largest suppliers to begin delivering some shipments in reusable containers instead of cardboard boxes, leading to a reduction of more than four boxes per week, averaging a reduction of more than 250 boxes per year.
“The trip gave me a renewed energy to not only change aspects of my lifestyle, but to support other environmental initiatives, try to pass on what I have learned, and lead others by example,” Donna said of her experience. “The trip also gave me renewed respect for my fellow Alcoans, who worked with and supported me through this experience. Regardless of differences in our businesses, backgrounds and countries, we can work together for a common goal.”
This year’s fellows include: Caitlin Bayliss (Health and Safety Consultant; Australia), Irae Silva (Junior Process Engineer; Brazil), James Wesdock (Global Health Director; Pittsburgh, PA, United States), Károly Pásztor (PMO Lead; Hungary), Manuela Guisasola (Laboratory Manager; Spain), Maude Lauzon (Deschambault ABS Manager; Canada); Simon Bilsbury (Process Operator; Australia), and Stefan Arason (Production worker; Iceland).
“Year after year we are told from returning Alcoa Earthwatch Fellows that this once-in-a-lifetime experience has helped to shape a renewed perspective on their roles as employees and citizens of their respective communities,” said Rosa Garcia Pineiro, VP, Sustainability and Alcoa Foundation President. “Alcoa Foundation is proud to reinforce the message that the investment of time and resources in sustainability research is a valuable and necessary one through our partnership with the Earthwatch Institute.”
Since the program’s inception in 2003, 290 Alcoa employees from 24 countries have contributed more than 14,000 hours of research, which Earthwatch uses to inform sustainable solutions.
“Through this partnership with the Alcoa Foundation, our scientists are able to collect the massive amount of data necessary to inform environmental policy,” said Scott Kania, CEO, Earthwatch Institute. “On top of that, Alcoa employees bring their skills and experiences back to their communities and workplaces, furthering the impact of the program and bringing home that message of sustainability and conservation.”
To learn more about this partnership, visit Alcoa’s website.
Earthwatch is an international nonprofit organization that connects citizens with scientists to improve the health and sustainability of the planet. Since its founding in 1971, Earthwatch has empowered more than 100,000 volunteers from all walks of life to join leading scientists on field research expeditions that tackle critical environmental challenges around the globe – from climate change to ocean health to human-wildlife conflict. Earthwatch works with all sectors of society, including corporations, teachers, students, community leaders, zoos and aquaria, and more. For more information about Earthwatch, visit earthwatch.org.
About Alcoa Foundation
Alcoa Foundation’s predecessor, currently known as Legacy Alcoa Foundation (and formerly known as Alcoa Foundation), was founded in 1952 as one of the few endowed corporate foundations in the United States. As a result of the separation of Alcoa Inc. into Alcoa Corporation and Arconic Inc. in November 2016, two new foundations were formed, into which the assets of Legacy Alcoa Foundation were transferred. One of the newly formed foundations, known now as Alcoa Foundation, is the foundation associated with Alcoa Corporation. Today, Alcoa Foundation invests where Alcoa Corporation has a presence, providing grants that contribute to environmental excellence around the world, particularly in the areas of biodiversity conservation and climate change research. Learn more at alcoafoundation.com and follow @AlcoaFoundation on Twitter.