Throughout the year, TRC offices across the country give back with their time, their professional skills, their passion and their hearts.
April 22, 2015 marked the 45th anniversary of Earth Day. To celebrate this event and to continue our support of the communities in which we live and work, TRC held its first company-wide Earth Day initiative. This year’s theme was climate change, and each office was encouraged to participate in a local event to support environmental awareness and stewardship. The turnout was impressive, with nearly 250 volunteers, including TRC employees, family and friends, from more than 20 offices across the country participating. Projects included park maintenance and cleanup activities, tree planting, bike-to-work programs and educational programs.
A few highlights included:
The Cincinnati office participated in the Earth Day Tree Planting at Winton Woods, which supported the Great Parks of Hamilton County’s Taking Root campaign. Fifteen employees, family and friends participated on behalf of TRC and joined about 50 other volunteers to plant 900 trees in one day.
Three of the Massachusetts offices teamed up with the Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust to maintain the Concord River Greenway. The Greenway winds through downtown Lowell, MA and connects to the regional trail network, providing access for non-vehicular transportation and reducing storm water impacts to the Concord River.
The Ann Arbor Michigan office assisted the Michigan DNR with a stormwater study on Bell Isle, a 985 acre island park in the middle of the Detroit River, situated half way between Canada and Detroit. Collecting field data and mapping stormwater flows provides information to the DNR to better determine the storm water drainage and flow patterns throughout the island and better develop flood control and resiliency plans.
All of these projects aligned well with the climate change theme. Planting trees and reducing the number of cars on the roads greatly improves air quality and reduces atmospheric carbon dioxide; maintaining healthy forests and green spaces helps control storm water, making our communities more resilient against severe weather. At TRC we are committed to bringing creativity, passion and teamwork to our local communities to make a difference across the country.
On a Saturday in October, a group of TRC employees and friends ventured out on the local river to participate in citizen science. The team joined hundreds of other local volunteers in the semiannual River Roundup Day, a program organized by the Huron River Watershed Council in Ann Arbor, Michigan. After a short orientation, the volunteers set off to sample two sites on the river. Trained “collectors” donned waders and headed into the river to collect samples of the river bed in their nets.
The volunteers were searching for benthic macroinvertebrates, which are essentially “bugs” that live under the water. The presence or absence of certain species of these “bugs” are a great indicator of the water quality and overall health of the river. The collectors placed the contents of their nets into trays for volunteers on the shore, or “pickers”, to remove the tiny bugs with tweezers and put them in jars to go back to the lab for identification.
TRC’s Irvine, California office has been working in Kenya since 2008 with the Orange County Chapter of Engineers Without Borders to improve the quality of life for communities in Kenya. Their first project involved the design and construction of a bridge to provide access to medical facilities for the community of Endana and access to secondary school education for the communities of Segeragate, Jerusalem and Black Tank. A health assessment performed during the project confirmed that none of the communities have a permanent water supply. During the dry season, most families have no water at all, and during the wet season some families must walk 10 miles round trip to the nearest water supply.
As their second project, the team decided to build two systems to provide the community of 170 people with clean water. First, house-based rainwater collection, filtration and storage for each thatched roof home will allow each individual family to collect water during the rainy season. Secondly, the team designed an 80-meter shallow spring development well with connections to immediate aquifers in the area to provide water during the dry season. These two solutions create a multi-resource portfolio for the community which can provide for 100% of their need.
The team has made four trips to Kenya to build the first two rainwater systems and install the spring well. As a result, the community now has a constant clean water source for drinking, bathing and cleaning — which contributes to a reduction in disease and a happier, healthier Kenya!
On a cold Saturday in March, TRC’s Bill James and Chris Harvey proved that they will do almost anything to keep their clients happy by joining BNSF Railway as they plunged into the icy waters of Lake Calhoun for Minnesota’s annual Polar Bear Plunge.
The Polar Bear Plunge raises over $1 million annually for the Minnesota Special Olympics. BNSF’s staff was impressed by TRC’s dedication, and even more impressed by Bill’s willingness to leave sunny, 78º California and travel to 23º Minnesota for the event.
The lake was so cold that ice had to be continually removed from the surface to accommodate the jumpers. Although Bill says it was the coldest he’s ever been, he and Chris have both promised to return to the plunge again in the future.
On a crisp Saturday morning in December, TRC staffers, family and friends joined other volunteers to remove invasive brush and trees at Dan Ryan Woods in Chicago, Illinois. The group cleared large swaths of buckthorn and other invasive plants that threatened the ecological diversity of the forest preserve. The work day was organized by Friends of the Forest Preserve, a non-profit dedicated to the responsible management of the forest preserves of Cook County through advocacy, internships and ecological restoration.