Hi everyone, my name is Madeleine Thornley and I am working at Pantex this summer as the wildlife intern in the Environmental Compliance Department. I recently graduated this May from Texas Tech University with a degree in Natural Resources Management and I am pursuing a career researching wildlife and ecology. Pantex conducts quite a few research projects closely with Texas Tech, so I heard about the work while I was a student there. I was drawn to apply to this internship position because of the heavy research focus and the good things that I had heard about Pantex. I am grateful for this opportunity to learn from Jim Ray, a Wildlife Biologist and Monty Schoenhals, an Agronomist who care about outreach, research, and helping young professionals gain expertise.
Throughout my time at Tech, I served as an officer for the Texas Tech Chapter of the Wildlife Society and I worked in a research lab focused on birds of prey. I’ve conducted research projects on the food habits of North America’s smallest falcon, the American Kestrel, and urban water birds like herons and egrets in urban lakes of Lubbock, Texas. Before this summer, I had spent previous field seasons doing field technician work researching avian and vegetation responses to thinning pinyon-juniper woodlands in New Mexico, diseases and parasites in Lesser Prairie Chickens in the panhandle of Texas, and the ecology of nesting American Kestrels in the Llano Estacado of Texas. Outside of my past jobs, I’ve also spent time volunteering on research projects throughout West Texas, so I have had the opportunity to work with quite a few species and gain diverse field skills.
What I am looking forward to most this summer is my research project on milkweed, and pollinators like the Monarch Butterfly. Pantex has been conducting research on milkweeds for the last few years by conducting surveys for the plants and assessing Monarch Butterfly presence in the forms of both the larval and adult forms. Assessing characteristics of the plant and butterfly use will allow us to answer important questions for pollinators in the region. Pollinators are experiencing a steady decline, so this research is vital. Some other projects that I will be involved with this summer include: helping with a current long-term Purple Martin project, conducting surveys for birds and Texas Horned Lizards, and assisting Pantex’s research on the large Burrowing Owl population at the plant.
This job is going to be vastly different than that of any others that I have worked - almost all of my experiences are from the research side of things, but this summer I will be learning a lot about the management side of things as well. The Environmental Compliance Department plays a big role in the important work conducted at the Pantex Plant, and I am excited to be gaining insight into what their day-to-day life consists of, and the challenges that they face.
Madeleine Thornley holding a female American Kestrel while working for a Texas Tech graduate student. (Note: Texas Tech University possessed proper state and federal permits for handling this species for research purposes.)
Pantexan Bruce Phebus with HE Materials and Testing recently presented a demonstration on the Phases of Matter to children at the Canyon Library.
Bruce talked with the children about how gasses expand and cool, the components of air, and how clouds form.
He performed demonstrations such as balloons in the vacuum chamber, the Franklin cup, and touchable clouds for the children whose average age was around 5 years old.
“I think science demos are important because science shouldn’t be abstract. It should be something people and kids realize is a real job and it explains the world,” Bruce said. “I think science without seeing scientists in person and demos is like watching water polo from the Sahara. Any given kid can’t even imagine the pool let alone someone playing in it.”
He said doing these types of demos makes science relevant for children, and explains the world that children touch and see every day.
“It isn’t just ‘facts’ in a book that are untestable and unverifiable on their own, things they just need to accept,” Bruce said. “The key tenant of science is trust but verify! Learn it all for yourself!”
Kimbel Leffew with Pantex Contractor Assurance is a member of the Human Performance Improvement Working Group team that was awarded the HPI Team Award by the Energy Facilities Contractor Operating Group at its annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
Chris Clark, Leffew’s manager, said, “As a fairly new manager in the Contractor Assurance organization, Kimbel has been a quick study of the complex processes and tools we use. With her outstanding contacts across the nuclear enterprise, she reaches out on a regular basis to benchmark other organizations as well as offer benchmark-quality ideas emanating from our two plants.”
Leffew and Chuck Ramsey (Oak Ridge National Laboratory) accepted the award on behalf of their team. The team was recognized for exceptional performance by a group who was instrumental in addressing a key EFCOG issue. The HPI Working Group turned around its team and provided members products that add value, such as a template for building an HPI strategic plan, an HPI business plan, and HPI assessment tools.
This award also recognizes the team’s contributions to the design and implementation of the HPI curriculum with the creation of the HPI Fundamentals and HPI Lead Practitioner Training Courses under the Performance and Reliability Program in DOE.
Kimbel Leffew, Pantex Contractor Assurance, and Chuck Ramsey, ORNL, accept the Human Performance Improvement Team Award from the EFCOG Safety Chair John McDonald. Team members not pictured include: Patricia Allen (Savannah River Remediation), Mike Petrowski (Los Alamos National Laboratory), and Lloyd Keith (Washington River Protection Solution).
1. Protect your health
- Get checked out! An annual physical is a Cigna CNS benefit.
- Know your numbers: blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar, and body mass index.
2. Insist on Pre-Job Briefings
- Identify scope to be performed and how it will be done; discuss location and potential hazards; know what personal protective equipment is required.
- Know what to do if abnormal conditions occur.
3. Perform the DRIVER steps before operating a vehicle
- Do a 360-degree walk-around; Rely on a spotter; Identify the safety features; Verify safe conditions; Eliminate distractions; Report all accidents.
- Ask your supervisor or safety representative if you have questions
4. Set High Standards to avoid falls in the workplace
- Use ladders properly, including keeping three points of contact when climbing, not leaning to one side when on the ladder, setting the ladder at the proper angle, securing the ladder, etc.
- Ensure use of a proper fall arrest system such as full body harness, self-retracting lanyard, and approved anchor point with 100% tie-off.
5. Be Aware of Hazards in the workplace
- As you begin work, ask yourself:
- Do I have the right tools/equipment for the job?
- Have I inspected my tools/equipment to make sure they are in good repair?
- Am I positioning the tool correctly? Are hands and other body parts out of the line of fire?
- Do I need additional Personal Protective Equipment for the job?
6. Practice Hand Safety
- Our hands are one of our most valuable tools, so protect them.
- Evaluate your work area for potential hand hazards.
- Use the proper tool for the task.
- Wear the right glove for the task.
7. Commute Safely
- Driving to and from work is one of the most dangerous activities we do each day.
- Start SMART
- Secure your seat belt and adjust your seat.
- Make adjustments (check mirrors and eliminate blind spots) before putting vehicle in drive.
- Avoid driving drowsy by getting plenty of rest each night. Lack of sleep causes you to react more slowly, and impairs judgement and vision.
- Remain focused on driving.
- Thoroughly check your surroundings for traffic, people, blind spots, and objects.
- Stay SMART
- Control your Speed.
- Monitor for excessive speed and road conditions.
- Avoid distractions. Follow CNS’s Cellular Telephone/Mobile Electronic Device policy to minimize risk during driving.
- Follow the Rules of the road.
- Take Time to reach your destination. Plan ahead. Allow for extra time.
8. Walking is Working
- Keep these facts in mind when you consider talking or texting while walking:
- Texting decreases your situational awareness and limits eyes on path.
- Five seconds is the average time your eyes are not focused on the path if you are walking while texting.
- Tripping hazards could be one step ahead.
- Own the outcome, stop and take time out to talk or text.
9. Think Before You Act
- Report it, don’t ignore it – report near misses and if something doesn’t’ seem safe report it immediately.
- Always look for hidden hazards – be aware of changes around you and pay attention to detail and the task at hand.
- Keep your mind on the task – remind yourself why certain safety policies and best practices are in place and stop to think before you act – keep a safety mindset!
10. Manage Stress
- Focus on the one thing that’s always within your control: you.
- These steps will help you manage job stress:
- Take responsibility for improving your physical and emotional well-being.
- Avoid pitfalls by identifying knee-jerk habits and negative attitudes that add to the stress you experience at work.
- Learn better communication skills to improve your relationships with managers and coworkers.
Pantexans with POLO recently took part in the annual Engineering Camp held each summer at West Texas A&M University in Canyon.
Milton Guerrero with Pantex Nuclear Procurement Engineering was a guest speaker at the event and spoke on the world of engineering and led students in an activity to help demonstrate how the world of engineering works.
Lance Duncan from Pantex Mission Engineering also presented at the event which was geared towards high school students.
During the presentations students learned about Pantex and Y-12, the different types of engineering (Mechanical, Environmental, Electrical, etc.), salary statistics, and the backgrounds of the guest speakers.
“This event was important to me because it was an opportunity to inspire kids to follow the path to becoming an engineer,” Guerrero said. “I attended this event to not only inspire but to also give back to my alma mater WTAMU.”