Pantex Blog

Pantexans help students ‘bee’lieve in math

Posted: Wednesday, January 13, 2016 - 00:00

‘bee’lieve in math

A recent Pantex volunteer event wasn’t as easy as 1-2-3 because convincing students that math is a useful skill is difficult, but Pantexans Dee and Scott Weaver were up for the task. The couple led a team of Pantex employees to help about 40 students at the High Plains Children’s Home gain a better understanding of math. Other Pantexans on the team included Laureen Kelly, Tamara Schaef and Leticia Rodriguez. The Weaver’s grandsons, Weston and Ryder, also attended.

“Sometimes it is difficult for students to recognize how much math is used daily,” said Dee Weaver. “When you start looking, math is all around us.” To prove this point, Scott Weaver, a beekeeper, presented “Beekeeping by the Numbers.”

“The kids were fascinated by the information about bees,” Dee said. “It emphasized that math is found in nature in many different ways – from the shape of the honeycomb chambers to the distance a bee will fly to and from the hive.”

At the end of the day, the teams presented graphing calculators to three high school students. “The calculators will help them with their homework and help them stay up with their classmates,” Dee said. “It is one less hurdle they have to overcome to help them be successful in the higher‑level math classes.”

CNS Sponsors Food Bank’s Annual Food Drive

Posted: Monday, January 4, 2016 - 00:00

Consolidated Nuclear Security served as a corporate sponsor during the High Plains Food Bank’s Together We Can food drive Dec. 7-12, providing 16,000 meals, which helped surpass the food bank’s 500,000 meal goal. Pantex volunteers also sorted food donations at the drive on Wednesday, Dec. 9, and others delivered monetary and food donations.

High Plains Food Bank’s Together We Can food drive

“Pantexans are kind and generous people,” said Laura Bailey, Pantexan and High Plains Food Bank board member. “We asked for volunteers and were flooded with folks who wanted to help. It was a great turnout.”

“As a sponsor, CNS had the opportunity to recognize our employees who do so much for the food bank, raise awareness about the good work performed by the food bank, and thank everyone in the community for their support during the food drive,” Bailey said.

Over the last few months, Pantex has donated $10,000 to the High Plains Food Bank’s Kids Café program and, joined forces with the Metal Trades Council for a donation of $3,250 for general use.

“CNS and MTC’s donations show that the company and employees support the Amarillo area and understand that the basic needs are the most important,” Bailey said. “Hunger kills productivity and potential. Providing food helps people in our community to be healthy, active and more alert. This is especially necessary for children, who need to focus on schoolwork so that they can grow to be healthy, productive adults.”

The High Plains Food Bank reports that the Together We Can food drive received donations for more than 725,000 meals. That will be a huge help because this past year has been particularly difficult, Bailey said. Requests for support have increased, but donations have decreased. Unfortunately, the need in the area is so great that these donations will be distributed within the next few months, she added.

“But I know Pantexans will once again offer to help. That is kind of who we are – Pantexans,” Bailey said.

Looking back at paying it forward

Posted: Tuesday, December 22, 2015 - 00:00

Consolidated Nuclear Security employees at Pantex in Amarillo and Y-12 in Oak Ridge made major impacts in 2015 donating both time and money to worthy causes throughout their communities.

Leading the way at Y-12 was the 12th annual Volunteer Day, with 32 employee-inspired projects from painting, landscaping, cleaning, repairing and even providing learning experiences for young people, all supported by CNS.

Volunteer Day

Pantex community projects included volunteering with the Amarillo Public Library, cleanup and maintenance of park trails at Palo Duro State Park and Wildcat Bluff Nature Center, and even a few Pantex employees working with a group of Girl Scouts to build a “tiny home” for a mother in need.

“We’re breaking away from the traditional STEM classroom approach,” said Brandy Ramirez, a facility engineer in System Engineering at Pantex. “We’ve put the tools in the girl’s hands allowing them to install new doors and windows. Having a part in building strong, smart, caring young women is very rewarding.”

Education is a strong focus for CNS with Pantex contributing a total of $30,000 to fund multi-level robotics programs at both Amarillo and Bushland Independent School Districts allowing students to take learning high-tech.

Hundreds of students and more than 50 robots, faced off in “the varsity Sport for the Mind™” at the fifth annual Smoky Mountains Regional FIRST Robotics competition in Tennessee. As in previous years, Y-12 employees volunteered as competition judges and as team coaches and mentors to help students design, program, and build a competition robot.

Volunteer DayPerhaps the biggest show of fostering education takes place each February as CNS host regional Science Bowls on behalf of the U. S. Department of Energy (DOE)/National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). Middle school and high school students across Texas and Tennessee demonstrate their academic proficiency with the winning teams going on to compete at the National Science Bowl® competition in Washington D.C.

“Science Bowl gives students who love math and science an event designed especially for them.” said Michelle Reichert, CNS Vice President and Pantex Site Manager. “They are the next generation of scientists and engineers who will one day help support our important mission.”

This year, CNS President Jim Haynes challenged the Oak Ridge community to match CNS’ $25,000 donation to replace the roof at the Boys & Girls Club of the Clinch Valley. The community responded.

Y-12 Site Manager Bill Tindal presented ADFAC, Aid to Distressed Families of Appalachian Counties, a check for $10,000 allowing the agency to continue its efforts in supporting children and families in need in the area. The donation followed an employee-driven effort where hundreds of dollars and items were collected to replenish ADFAC’s “Crisis Cupboard.” Y-12 employees Elaine Warren and Joy Evans coordinated the effort.

“This donation from Y-12 will go a long way to provide comfort to many families in need,” said Warren. “I know there will be a lot of mothers who will be happy to see diapers and wipes on the shelves at ADFAC,” she added.

CNS also helped to alleviate hunger by presenting $10,000 to the High Plains Food Bank’s Kids’ Café with additional support during December’s Together We Can food drive where employees collected donations of food and cash from the local community. CNS also worked with the Metal Trades Council to help the food bank provide turkeys to families in need during the Thanksgiving holiday.

2015 marked the 17th year for the partnership between Y-12 and Atomic Trades and Labor Council to aid the March of Dimes by donating $15,000 to their campaign. In Amarillo, more than 60 Pantex employees spent a day on the green as CNS contributed $8,000 to sponsor the 25th Annual March of Dimes “Tournament of Eagles” golf tournament.

This year, CNS employees continued their support of the HonorAir flights to Washington D.C., which provides free flights to war memorials for local veterans of World War Two, Korea and Viet Nam. Since 2011, Y-12 employees have turned out for the return flights, wishing our veterans a welcome home and thanking them for their service to our country.

Volunteer Day

Pantex and Y-12 employees broke a sweat for a good cause at this year’s Susan G Komen Race for the Cure, which saw more than 100 employees at Pantex and Y-12 take part. Curtis Chamberlain, a production manager at Pantex, ran with his 11-year-old daughter and said it was a “good opportunity to spend quality time with her and support a worthy cause.”

CNS and its workforce in Pantex and Y-12 are proud of the support we gave to our communities in 2015 and look forward to even greater good deeds in 2016.

Wild Pantex - From deer tracks to reindeer in the Texas Panhandle

Posted: Tuesday, December 22, 2015 - 00:00

Article by Jim Ray, Pantex Wildlife Biologist/Scientist

I write to you from a snow-covered Texas Panhandle and wonder if another round of wintery weather might be timed just right to give us a white Christmas. The season and a line of deer tracks in the snow outside of my office building gives me the idea to focus this edition of the blog on reindeer. I can honestly say that I have never had the opportunity to see a reindeer – for sure, not the flashing red-nosed variety.

Jim Ray walks up to a caribou bull in the arctic tundra

Jim Ray walks up to a caribou bull in the arctic tundra after being told that with hands above his head like caribou antlers, he would be able to do so –sure enough it worked!

I have, however, seen caribou, and some biologists lump caribou and reindeer together as one species (Rangifer tarandus). Caribou and reindeer are quite different in appearance. Reindeer are smaller and were domesticated in northern Eurasia about 2,000 years ago. Arctic peoples in Scandinavia and Russia still herd reindeer today, depending on them for food, clothing, shelter, and even the company they can provide as pets. Caribou and reindeer are unique among the deer family in that both sexes grow antlers, and like other North American deer, they shed and regrow them on an annual basis.

A caribou making landfall after crossing the Inglis River in the Arctic Circle. Although, not reindeer, per se, I did get to experience seeing and interacting with caribou in their natural habitat in the past when I worked for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. I was able to join a crew sponsored by the Canadian Wildlife Service that was banding geese on the Boothia Peninsula in the Arctic Circle. For two weeks during July 1994 we worked out of a helicopter locating and capturing geese along the Inglis River (this is another story in itself). I was more than 3,900 miles from home, but still an astonishing 1,700 miles from the North Pole. While searching for geese from a helicopter our field of view almost always included from one to several hundred barren-ground caribou. While on the ground banding geese, caribou would, at times, curiously approach but always stop short and watch us from a safe distance.

Focusing back on the Pantex Plant, which by the way, receives a very similar amount of snow annually as the North Pole, it is very unlikely that anyone will ever observe a caribou or reindeer here. However, we do have mule deer and white-tailed deer on the facility and elk sightings are not all that rare here in the Texas Panhandle. Our region even has a record of a moose that wondered into the northern part of our area for a brief period back in the late 1980s.

Mule deer in velvet at the Pantex Plant

Mule deer in velvet at the Pantex Plant.

The deer tracks in the snow, a mere few feet from my building, brings to light a special reality about Pantex. Wildlife sightings are common, as are remarks that I hear from people that are along the lines of, “one of the great things about working at Pantex is the wildlife that we get to see.” Naturally that is music to my ears.

Here is to hoping that you get to enjoy the natural world wherever you may be, that you and yours have a safe and enjoyable holiday season.

Providing turkey and cheer in Amarillo for the eighth year

Posted: Monday, December 21, 2015 - 00:00

While most people spent the Saturday before Thanksgiving packing for a road trip or grocery shopping for the big meal, a group of Pantexans spent the day lending a hand in the Amarillo community. For the eighth year in a row, they teamed up with the Hilltop Senior Citizen Association to offer a holiday meal to homeless and low-income families.

Pantexans Lisa Fajardo, left, and Amber Burnam

Pantexans Lisa Fajardo, left, and Amber Burnam serve drinks during the Hilltop Thanksgiving lunch.

“I really enjoyed the chance to give back to the community and meet new people,” said Amber Burnam, a business services analyst in Ethics and Employee Concerns.”

Nearly 500 HSCA guests enjoyed the traditional Thanksgiving feast sponsored by CNS. Volunteers also delivered meals to about 40 homebound seniors.

Pantex volunteers, including some family members, were joined by the Potter County Deputy Sheriff Association and a host of other community volunteers.

Human Resources Business Partner Clarissa Baker said, “My mother and I volunteered and had an awesome time. It was fun working with coworkers in a totally different setting and making new friends. Both of us were very blessed to have been able to participate.”

Since 1974, the Hilltop Senior Citizen Association has offered entertainment, educational opportunities, and outings to seniors primarily in the north Amarillo area. Clara Westmoreland, executive director, stressed the importance of the holiday meal to many of their senior members on fixed incomes and low-income families living near the center.

“For some, this is the only Thanksgiving meal they will have,” said Westmoreland.

She said the need is so great in the neighborhood that HSCA volunteers have begun serving hot meals for the neighborhood children, as part of the High Plains Food Bank’s KidsCafe program.

All of the Pantex volunteers, from the servers to dishwashers, expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to serve and their desires to return again.

Burnam said, “Everyone was so appreciative and it was a great experience. I look forward to doing it again next year.”