USDA Employees Honored for Hurricane Katrina
Efforts By Erin
Peabody March 6, 2007
WASHINGTON, Mar. 6A special team of Agricultural Research
Service (ARS) employees today received
the agency's "Gold Award for Excellence in Administrative and Financial
Management" for providing administrative support to ARS employees who fled
Hurricane Katrina. ARS is the chief scientific research agency of the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The Human Capital Project Teamwith members based in New Orleans,
La., Stoneville, Miss., and Beltsville, Md.supported ARS employees
affected by Hurricane Katrina in countless ways, professionally and personally.
The team is part of Administrative and Financial Management (AFM), which also
serves three other USDA agencies: the National Agricultural Statistics Service,
the Economic Research Service and the
Cooperative State Research, Education and
Extension Service. These agencies and ARS make up USDA's
Research, Education and Economics mission
Employees at one of ARS' major research sites, the Southern Regional
Research Center (SRRC)
in New Orleans, were severely impacted by the hurricane that struck on August
29, 2005. In response, the Human Capital Project Team developed a plan for
relocating 172 employees and their dependents to temporary work sites in 12
states. These relocations had to be carefully executed, with both agency
research goals and employee personal needs in mind.
Members of the award-winning team are
Yezek. They and other ARS awardees were recognized during a ceremony today
at USDA headquarters here.
The team was congratulated for facilitating the smooth return to New
Orleans of SRRC personnel and their families a full year ahead of schedule.
This has reduced employee emotional trauma, preserved the continuity of the
center's research programs and saved the agency millions of dollars in
temporary duty station costs.
Other AFM employees and teams recognized at today's awards ceremony
Research Unit, Hurricane Rita Evacuation Response Team, AFM Silver Award
for Excellence. This teamcomprising personnel from ARS'
Ark., locationshelped ensure the safe and orderly evacuation of the
Beaumont, Texas, location during Hurricane Rita in September 2005. With the
threat of the hurricane looming, the team proactively designated an evacuation
call-in facility, established evacuation routes, and assisted scientists in
backing up critical research data and safeguarding irreplaceable plant
material. Members of the team included administrative technician
Crowell and IT specialist
Rapid Recovery Project Team, AFM Bronze Award for Excellence. This eight-member
team was honored for its excellence in coordinating cleanup and repairs to the
SRRC facility following Hurricane Katrina. Because of the hurricane and
subsequent storm surge, SRRC suffered severe flooding, blown-out windows and a
partially damaged roof. Mold and mildew growth was pervasive. By expediting
facility repairs and necessary mold remediation, employees were able to return
to SRRC sooner than projected, and costly temporary worksite expenses were
reduced. Members of the team included
Couture, Safety and Occupational Health Specialist,
Agricultural Research Laboratory, Sidney, Mont., AFM Bronze Award for
Excellence. Couture has made numerous efforts towards creating a "green"
workplace, including developing an electronic-waste, or e-waste, program for
the eco-friendly disposal of computers, electronics and mobile phones. She
organized the second-ever community-wide e-waste collection in the state of
Montana. Her efforts and educational materials have inspired similar collection
drives in other U.S. communities and ARS locations.