Alcoa announced that fourteen of its employees will assist in scientific field research expeditions around the world, including China, through a partnership with Earthwatch Institute.
"Climate change issues have always been my passion, so I was glad that there was a specific expedition on monitoring climate change," said Sasanka Thilakasiri, an Alcoa employee from Australia who participated in Earthwatch’s Climate Change at the Arctic’s Edge project last year. "I am glad that I now can say that I have actually measured and seen the effects of anthropogenic climate change. This experience has definitely motivated me to stop sitting on my hands and be more proactive about being a climate change advocate at home."
Earthwatch is the global volunteer organization that works toward a sustainable environment by engaging people in research, conservation, and education programs. The Alcoa fellows will take active roles in addressing climate change and other environmental issues, from monitoring seabirds in Alaska to assessing impacts on coral reefs in the Seychelles. Founded in 1971, Earthwatch’s mission is to engage people worldwide in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment.
The selected employees work at Alcoa locations around the world, from Australia to Mexico. Between June and November they will travel to research sites in Belarus, China, Kenya, and elsewhere to assist ongoing research projects on critical environmental issues. This is the fifth year Alcoa has sponsored employees in the field. In addition to encouraging the support of company environmental goals, Alcoa employee fellows are also inspired to take action for sustainability in their local communities. For example, Indiana employee Frank Cicela, who explored caterpillar ecology in the rainforests of Costa Rica, went on to launch a regional conference on energy issues and solutions, sharing insights on subjects ranging from alternative energy sources to designing sustainable communities.
The Earthwatch Fellowships give Alcoa employees an opportunity to get involved personally and to share their findings in the communities in which they work and live. During their expeditions, each fellow publishes a diary of his or her experiences along with photographs.
"Alcoa is committed to being part of the solution for global environmental issues," said Rob Bear, corporate director of Environment at Alcoa. "Our Earthwatch partnership matches the enthusiasm of our employees with an opportunity to gain different perspectives, learn new skills, and explore diverse cultures. This is a powerful combination as we continue to do our part to ensure a sustainable future."
The Alcoa Earthwatch Fellows nominate themselves and are selected on merit by a team of judges from Alcoa and Earthwatch Institute. All travel and accommodation costs are covered, and the fellows use their available vacation time to participate on projects for up to two weeks under the guidance of leading environmental scientists. Alcoa provides a grant to Earthwatch to support the research projects in which employees are participating.