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Delta Force students participate in Environment Day

Victoria LaFave photo Delta Force students and Billerud employees pose in front of ‘Spirit of Escanaba’ — Billerud’s E4 Paper Machine System, on Thursday, Aug. 25 during Environment Day, Delta Force’s seventh session this year.

ESCANABA — Delta Force students learned from business leaders at Billerud and Department of Natural Resources professionals during Environment Day on Thursday, Aug. 25. In the seventh session of this year’s Delta Force class, students discovered the fascinating history and growth of Billerud, and the mission of the DNR.

The day started at Billerud’s Escanaba mill with a presentation by Health and Safety Director Pamla Versailles, who gave students a fascinating presentation on the history of the Escanaba mill and its economic impact. She and Joe Curran, safety and security manager, then taught students about the paper-making process and discussed how Billerud focuses on safety and environmental sustainability. Students then took a bus tour of the Billerud mill property, and learned from Environmental Manager Charles Detiege.

Versailles and Mike Farrell, Billerud paper relief coordinator, then led students on a walking tour of the E4 Paper Machine System, showing them the paper-making process and roll shipping, and some of the safety measures that employees take.

“Billerud is committed to protecting human health, the environment, and utilizing resources in a responsible and sustainable manner,” Versailles explained, “so it is our pleasure to be able to share this commitment with the Delta Force students.”

Versailles, who is a Delta Force graduate herself, said her experience with Delta Force taught her a great deal about the community. “Billerud puts one or two people in each Delta Force class,” she noted. “We feel it’s an opportunity to give back to the community, and is a great way for our employees to learn how they can make a positive impact in their community. Once our employees graduate from Delta Force, we hope they continue to actively participate in their communities, which benefits everyone.”

Delta Force student Sondra Becker was inspired by Billerud’s focus on preserving the environment and employees’ safety.

“The ‘Come Build a Better Future With Us’ tagline from Billerud really shows the sustainability philosophy of making the products for customers and leaving the smallest footprint possible behind,” Becker said. “The focus on everyone’s safety and environmental impact truly shows the quality leadership we have in our community. It was a great environmental day with excellent speakers.”

Students were also impressed by the vast amount of knowledge that Versailles and her colleagues had about the paper-making process.

“I feel like every employee we learned from today was very well-informed in all the different aspects of the mill,” said Morgan Eagloski, another Delta Force student.

Delta Force students then asked questions and learned more about the financial impact of Billerud. With an average annual economic impact of nearly $360 million, including wages, salaries and taxes paid, and raw materials and services purchased, the impact is staggering.

Students enjoyed lunch provided by Billerud (made by Applewood Eatery), and then moved on to the next segment of Environment Day at the DNR Customer Service Center.

Students heard presentations from DNR staff and how they work to protect and enhance Michigan’s aquatic life and habitats.

Students learned from John Bauman, DNR fisheries biologist, who discussed the DNR’s commitment to the conservation, protection, management and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations.

Students heard specific examples of some of the services the DNR offers from DNR Wildlife Technician Colter Lubben, such as offering technical and on-site assistance for nuisance wildlife, managing the deer damage permit program, and helping outdoor enthusiasts find locations to enjoy their preferred outdoor activities. Students also heard from DNR Conservation Officers about the work they do, and were impressed by the vast amount of knowledge passed on by DNR staff.

“The DNR office was very interesting. All the employees that talked with us were impressive and so knowledgeable,” Delta Force student Tina Jensen said. “It was so enlightening to learn the depths of their programs and how much work they do in our area. I was amazed at the variety of programs, studies, and services they provide directly out of the local office.”

Next month during Education Day, Delta Force students will explore the issues impacting education in Delta County, and will gain a deeper understanding of the complexities facing educators today.

Created and facilitated by the Delta County Chamber of Commerce, Delta Force encompasses a series of ten full-day sessions covering key segments of our community. Visit HYPERLINK “http://www.deltami.org/delta-force-leadership-program” www.deltami.org/delta-force-leadership-program for more information.

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Victoria LaFave is with the Delta County Chamber of Commerce.

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