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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

USDA Employees Honored for Hurricane Katrina Efforts / March 6, 2007 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

Icon and text: 2006 Annual Recognition Program: Link to national news release.
National news release

USDA Employees Honored for Hurricane Katrina Efforts

By Erin Peabody
March 6, 2007

WASHINGTON, Mar. 6—A 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 Team—with 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 area.

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 Karen Brownell, Lyn Buchanan, Larry Cullumber, Diane Eggert, Steven Helmrich, Erica Jones, Rita Keeling, Dave Love, Debra Magee, Carolyn Norquist, Sue Rable, Dawn Reed, Hilda Roberts, Archie Tucker, Sonja Tucker, Robin Ward, Patricia Winston and Karen 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 were:

  • Rice Research Unit, Hurricane Rita Evacuation Response Team, AFM Silver Award for Excellence. This team—comprising personnel from ARS' Beaumont, Texas, and Stuttgart, Ark., locations—helped 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 Shari Comer, secretary Davee Crowell and IT specialist Diana Morian.
  • SRRC 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 Joan Baker, Patrick Barry, Michael Butler, Barry Johnson, Frank King, Terry Krutz, Harry Solhjoo and Darrell Williamson.
  • Jackie Couture, Safety and Occupational Health Specialist, Northern Plains 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.
Last Modified: 3/6/2007
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