Environmental Sciences

Getting Out and Giving Back: Anchor QEA in the Community

June 8, 2022 – Anchor QEA Community Service Committee

Community involvement—supporting the places where we work, live, and play—is central to Anchor QEA’s mission “to improve the environment and our communities with integrity and vibe.” Service is one of our core values, and it is supported internally by a dedicated Community Service Committee, which plans special events throughout the year, amplifies opportunities for community involvement, and helps increase the impact of employees’ charitable giving with our Matching Gifts Program.

Every year as summer approaches, Anchor QEA employees are encouraged to focus on how they can be of service in their communities—then get out and do it. Some efforts are group affairs, like the annual company-wide fundraising campaign where teams work together to raise money for local charities; others are seized by one or two individuals responding to an unexpected opportunity to make a difference. After two (pandemic) years of limited opportunities to gather in person, 2022’s service efforts felt refreshingly human and life-affirming. Below are a few of Anchor QEA employees’ experiences to spread joy and serve as a reminder of the power of connection!

Salmon in the Schools: Encouraging the Next Generation of Environmental Stewards

Anchor QEA Water Resources Engineer Tom Hutchison and Geomorphologist Mike Curran presented to two fourth-grade classes at the Louisa Boren STEM School in West Seattle, Washington. Tom and Mike engaged the students in a lively conversation about river engineering and the marine environment, focusing on salmon and their impact on the local community.

The presentation was a part of a regional Problem-Based Learning effort called Salmon in the Schools, which includes participation in field experiences and offers hands-on learning opportunities to students in the greater Seattle area. In the Pacific Northwest, salmon are an essential part of the region’s history, culture, and economy.

Each January, the students raise young salmon and learn about the salmon life cycle. Tom and Mike spoke to the students about what kind of habitat salmon need to thrive and how environmental engineering can impact salmon and our local waterways.

After hearing from the presenters, the students were given a chance to design their own solutions to help salmon return to their native spawning sites and make the Duwamish Waterway—which flows less than a mile from Louisa Boren’s classrooms—friendlier for fish. The interactive and encouraging presentations helped bring this unit to life for the students, teaching them everyone has a role to play in protecting the local environment.

“We were impressed by the depth of the students’ understanding of the problems facing salmon and happy to help inspire future leaders to be stewards of their local environment.” — Tom Hutchison

“I was impressed with the students’ engagement and how much they knew already about salmon. Visiting the classroom felt really rewarding and was a good reminder of how exciting and interesting the work we do is!” — Mike Curran

“Chalk the Trail”: Advocating for Outdoor Connectivity in the Community

In Fairhope, Alabama, Anchor QEA was a sponsor of the second annual "Chalk the Trail" fundraiser—an event that brings together art and outdoor living by inviting families and individuals to create dazzling chalk displays on sidewalks along the eastern shore of Mobile Bay. Chalk the Trail benefits the Baldwin County Trailblazers, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving walking and biking opportunities and encouraging citizens to safely use bike and pedestrian options. Event participants received goodie bags containing pastel chalk sets, snacks, and other fun giveaways; they were then given free rein to create unique designs in their designated sidewalk areas.

Engaging community members to fill the picturesque waterside walkways with colorful, unique artwork helps further the Baldwin County Trailblazers’ objectives by increasing awareness about local trails, getting individuals and families outside, and raising funds for trail maintenance and development. Connecting cities and towns ultimately creates a public appetite for sidewalks in small areas and encourages a safe, outdoor community!

Go Outside Grant: Building an Outdoor Classroom to Increase Kids’ Time Outside

The Anchor QEA team in Asheville, North Carolina, has been excited to partner with the Ira B. Jones Elementary School community and Novus Architects, Inc., to offer pro bono services for the permitting and construction of an outdoor classroom. The North Carolina Schools Go Outside Grant was created to address the main barrier to getting kids outside during the school day: funding.

Field trips and outdoor experiences offer students opportunities to engage in hands-on activities and help foster creativity, problem-solving, independence, and engagement. With funding obtained by the school’s Parent Teach Organization committee from the Go Outside Grant with considerable support from Asheville City Schools, this amazing space will provide students ample opportunities to start exploring—and learning—in a stimulating outdoor environment this Spring.

Clean Streets = Clean Streams: Joining Local Volunteer Cleanups Across the Country

Litter cleanup initiatives significantly improve the environment by creating cleaner parks, streets, and public spaces, which impact the entire community and surrounding habitats—especially considering storm drains often lead directly to local waterways.

This year, Anchor QEA staff joined thousands of other volunteers in locations from Massachusetts to New Jersey to Washington State to help make local land and waterways cleaner, safer, and more beautiful. Local foundations like Keep Rockland Beautiful work to raise awareness about polluted stormwater runoff and remind us that every impact matters—no matter how big or small!

From building outdoor classrooms to participating in local litter cleanups, thank you to all Anchor QEA staff who participated in getting out and giving back to their communities in the first half of the year!