Environmental Factor, September 2005, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Familiar Faces in Commuter Places: See NIEHS Faces on SmartCommute Posters
By Blondell Peterson
Four NIEHS employees are poster models for the SmartCommute Challenge, a triangle area initiative to promote alternative transportation to automobiles. Belinda Wilson, Dick Sloane, Xuefei Wu and Liya Qin are seen throughout the triangle on a poster encouraging Research Triangle Park employees to take the SmartCommute Challenge. Taking the challenge means you will commute by alternative transportation at least once by Sept. 30.
Julie Woosley, director of SmartCommute of RTP, said 130 NIEHS employees pledged last year. That was a 17 percent pledge rate, the highest among large companies with 500 or more employees.
"We did an onsite at NIEHS last year, and Dick Sloane rallied his fellow employees to sign up and we had a great response," Woosley said. "Dick is a wonderful transportation coordinator because he's so energetic, incredibly knowledgeable, and infinitely helpful and he also really walks his talk. He's a regular alternative commuter himself, and has been for years."
According to Sloane, SmartCommute started as a small effort in Research Triangle Park in 2000. He got involved in 2001. A part-time employee was hired in 2002. Today there is a full-time employee, interns and a committee. This year SmartCommute is combined with the Triangle Transit Authority and involves Orange, Durham and Wake Counties. Approximately 90 employers and several television and radio stations are publicizing the SmartCommute Challenge.
Anyone who takes the challenge is eligible to win a grand prize of two round-trip airline tickets and a week-long hotel stay anywhere in the 48 continental United States. Other prizes include a laptop, an iPod Mini, and a bicycle. Get the full details at www.smartcommute.org.
NIEHS contributed $1,500 to become a gold sponsor of the event. Sponsors help to expand the campaign with prizes for employees who take the Challenge or donate cash or services to help with marketing and advertising.
"I am impressed with the willingness of NIEHS employees to try a new way of getting to work," Woosley said. "They really seem to understand that each person's actions can make an impact, and are willing to go a little out of their way to make a difference. Perhaps it's because of the work they do at NIEHS, they understand how environmental systems can be impacted by human behavior as well as how human health can be impacted by the environment, and they really want to be a part of the solution. I commend them for their participation last year and challenge them to beat their own record this year!"