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Reaching Out: NREL Community Connection

Welcome to the Spring 2021 Reaching Out: NREL Community Connection Newsletter.

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In this Edition

NREL Hosts COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics

Virtual NREL Giving Campaign Succeeds and Exceeds!

NREL Volunteer Spotlights

The New Colorado Science Bowl Champs

Information on NREL's Virtual Tours, Education Programs, and Story Times

NREL Hosts COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics

Health care professionals administer vaccinations in the NREL Parking Garage.
March 18, 2021 – Health care professionals administer vaccinations in the NREL Parking Garage. Jefferson County Public Health hosted the vaccination event targeting underserved public populations and limited NREL and Golden Field Office staff.

Partnering with Jefferson County, NREL hosted several COVID-19 vaccine clinics over the past month and anticipates being a host site a few more times over the next several weeks. NREL employees have volunteered their time to make sure the clinics run as smoothly as possible. A large "THANK YOU" to those who have helped make the clinics a success!

These events are not open to the public. To view available appointments across the state, please visit the Colorado vaccination website.

If you're seeking another resource to secure a vaccine appointment, NREL employee Nick Muerdter has gained national media attention for his contributions to the COVID-19 vaccination effort. Nick has developed a tool called the COVID-19 Vaccine Spotter, which can be used to check vaccine availability at pharmacies. Thank you, Nick, for being a part of the solution!

Virtual NREL Giving Campaign Succeeds and Exceeds!

NREL is a leader in the renewable energy field, but it is also a family with a culture of caring about the health and well-being of our community. Each year, NREL hosts its annual Giving Campaign, where NRELians collectively donate funds and volunteer personal time to local charities.

During the 2020 Annual Giving Campaign, NRELians raised a record $616,000 for local charities in NREL's three office locations: Denver; Washington, D.C.; and Fairbanks, Alaska. In addition, the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, NREL's management and operating contractor, donated $50,000 in COVID relief support throughout the year.

"At a time when many companies are scaling back on their charitable commitments, NREL showed its commitment to the community and increased their contribution by 13% compared to the year before," said Erin Atwell, CEO of Community Shares of Colorado. "NRELians have done an absolutely amazing job—we're just deeply impressed and humbled."

NREL's Giving Campaign culminated with the ever-popular employee silent auction, where the funds raised from this event directly benefitted three charities: Foodbank of the Rockies, Foothills Animal Shelter, and Judi's House.

"Judi's House/JAG Institute exists to help grieving children and families find connection that leads to healing," said Julie Scott, director of Corporate Philanthropy and Communications with the agency. "We are immensely grateful to NREL for inviting Judi's House to be part of the annual giving campaign. Through financial support from NREL employees, you are directly helping us advance our vision that no child should be alone in grief. Thank you for being champions to children in need and champions in our community."

Like most events this past year, virtually hosting the annual Giving Campaign presented unique challenges that required creative solutions. As usual, NRELians stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park.

"I'm proud of everyone's flexibility and enthusiasm to participate and to reimagine this whole campaign on a virtual level," said Chris Gearhart, director of the Center for Integrated Mobility Sciences and co-chair of the 2020 Giving Campaign. "In a way, it brought all NRELians closer together, no matter where they are based."

"Despite the impacts COVID has had on our personal lives, we are so grateful NRELians came through with record support for our community in 2020," said Dan Beckley, Facilities and Operations associate lab director and co-chair of the 2020 Giving Campaign. "A big thanks to everyone who participated in the 2020 NREL Giving Campaign—we couldn't have done it without their participation and donations."

NRELians Volunteer and Stand Out

Throughout the year, NRELians volunteer and raise awareness for organizations and causes they are passionate about. In 2020, NRELians volunteered 825 hours, which the Alliance for Sustainable Energy matched with $8,250 in donations.

"NRELians still found many opportunities to give back to local communities by either donating their resources or volunteering their time, to which they took advantage," said Tom Foust, Catalytic Carbon Transformation and Scale-Up Center director and co-chair of the 2020 Giving Campaign. "With the support of our partners, Mile High United Way and Community Shares, the lab will continue to facilitate a variety of virtual opportunities for staff to volunteer in 2021."

Below are a few highlights of NRELians who made unique contributions to the Denver community:

Stephen Tifft
Stephen Tifft

Stephen Tifft, a chemical engineer with the Catalytic Carbon Transformation and Scale-Up Center, is one example of an NRELian making an impact. He volunteers at St. Anthony's Hospital in Lakewood, Colorado, where he keeps supplies stocked and ready for surgeries. In particular, he ensures endotracheal tubes for intubation, syringes, and other medical equipment are ready to go for operating rooms, which eases the job of anesthesia technicians. Stephen helps make the medical staff's strenuous days a little bit easier.

Leigh Ramsey
Leigh Ramsey

Leigh Ramsey, a project manager with NREL communications, volunteers at the Performing Arts Academy of Colorado. The Performing Arts Academy of Colorado provides performing arts education for students in preschool through 12th grade in the south Denver metro area. Leigh's main duty is managing the annual fundraiser every fall. She is also the founder of the Wesley Players Theatre Company, where she helps with performances and local performing arts organizations.

Anthony Lopez
Anthony Lopez

Anthony Lopez, a geospatial scientist with the Strategic Energy Analysis Center, offers his time and support to the Greeley Dream Team, an organization focused on helping underprivileged students make the leap to college. Anthony mentors students and helps them set career and academic goals, find internships, update resumes, and more. When Anthony was in junior high, he participated in the Greeley Dream team, and his mentor helped him reach his goal of attending college. He enjoys being a mentor for the organization because a few small words and guidance can change a young adult's life.

Your New Colorado Science Bowl Champs: Fossil Ridge

Congratulations to Fossil Ridge High School out of Fort Collins! Their high school science bowl team won the 31st annual Colorado Regional High School Science Bowl, which was held virtually on Feb. 27.

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are a critical part of NREL's mission to educate the next generation of scientists and encourage interest in these topics.

Questions covered a wide range of STEM topics including biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, earth and space sciences, energy, and questions about the DOE's 17 national laboratories. The Fossil Ridge High School team now moves forward to the preliminary rounds of the National Science Bowl, which will be held virtually later this month.

Visit NREL ...Virtually!

NREL is offering virtual tours of its South Table Mountain Campus. These tours are a fun and educational experience for classrooms, families, or for anyone who has ever wondered about those beautiful buildings on the north side of I-70 in Golden. Participants will learn about our research and see how we are demonstrating clean energy technologies, reducing waste, and eliminating atmospheric pollution.

Led by NREL staff, and available at no charge, tours are held the second Friday of each month. To sign up, complete the virtual tour registration form.

Virtual Education Programs

Students participate in an experiment.
NREL's education programs promote STEM using clean energy technologies to capture student interest.

Join NREL for Virtual Story Time

Children ages 5–8 are invited to join us every Monday at 1:30 p.m. and Thursday at 10:30 a.m. (MT) as we read a story and complete a related activity together. Topics include discussions on elements and energy types that exist in the universe, how to make solar ovens, drawing interpretations of certain words, and experimenting with mirrors to demonstrate the concept of infinity. Children can also learn what it means to be a program integrator in the waterpower research program, design engineer in energy conversion, and much more. View the full calendar of Story Time events.

Virtual Science Experiment Series

Join the NREL Education Team for a virtual lab experience where students will learn about renewable energy sources and how they fit into the future of the energy grid. Conducted over four days, interested parties can join for one day or for the whole series. Visit the NREL Education Programs site, select the experiment, and then choose a program and a day and time through the calendar application.