American Transmission Co. employees teamed up to make a difference during ATC’s Earth Days of Caring. While ATC is committed to environmental leadership all year long, we honor Earth Day by going out in our communities to volunteer each spring in the days and weeks surrounding April 22.
This year, employees used innovation, collaboration and plain hard work to help local organizations meet their goals. Employees in ATC’s Madison-area offices helped at the University of Wisconsin-Extension Teaching Garden, which is a community educational resource. Volunteers prepared soil and tended to the garden. Employees at ATC’s Pewaukee office helped design and build a log mushroom rack for Riveredge Nature Center and helped haul logs up a hill that will be used to shade structure to protect native orchids. Pewaukee employees also helped in the gardens at Interfaith’s Washington Park Senior Center. Employees from ATC’s Kingsford office distributed seedlings at Dickinson Conservation District’s annual tree sale. Employees in De Pere helped with spring cleaning and laid down mulch at Bay Beach Wildlife sanctuary. Check out the photos below from the events to see ATC employees in action!
ATC is committed to environmental leadership and community service and support. ATC’s Green Team plans earth-friendly volunteer events for employees throughout the year.
In additional to environmental volunteerism, ATC also has an extensive environmental program aimed at protecting the environment while providing the essential service of operating and maintaining the electric grid to help keep the lights on. ATC uses new and innovative approaches to help pollinators, birds, wildlife and habitats in our rights-of-way. You can read about or environmental commitment in our new Environmental Annual Report.
On the morning of May 24, David Jesse, training support specialist at American Transmission Co., started the Infinitus 888K, which is a 10-day, 552-mile ultramarathon. Jesse answered some of our questions about his training, game plan and motivation before the race.
Q: 552 miles over 10 days sounds unfathomable to most. Why do it?
A: Back in August of 2010 my father lost his battle with multiple myeloma. In August of 2017 my mother lost her battle with pancreatic cancer. My father-in-law continues his battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I have other friends dealing with various types of cancer as well. Enough is enough. I’m dedicating my upcoming race to these amazing people and what they deal with every day. I’m donating my energy and sweat, and my goal is to raise $1,500 to help the American Cancer Society fight this terrible disease.
Q: Can you tell us more about the race itself?
A: The Infinitus 888k a 552-mile Ultra Marathon is in Goshen, VT. Over the course of 10 days, I will be running an approximate 7-mile loop and an approximate 19.5-mile loop 20 times each. Yes, it does sound terrible, but it will be nothing compared to watching what my father and mother went through with their respective battles.
Q: Have you ever done anything like the Infinitus 888K before?
A: I’ve done two 200-milers, two 100-milers, a bunch of 50-milers and I’ve run across the Grand Canyon. I’ve also done four Ironman triathlons.
Q: How did you get started doing ultra marathons?
A: I’m always looking for that next challenge. I ran in cross country 5-kilometer races, so from there I figured I could do a half-marathon. If I could do a half-marathon, I figured I could do a marathon. From there, I started doing triathlons. With the timing of a triathlon, I figured I could do a 50-miler. It just snowballed.
Q: How have you been training and preparing?
A: I am a certified coach, so I am self-coaching. I started training in November 2017. I typically follow a routine – one day of speed work or an up-tempo mid-distance run, one day of hill repeats, a mid-week long run, and then on the weekend is my longest run. Sometimes I run to work. If you go the most direct way from my house, it’s just over 16 miles. And, of course, if you run to work, you have to run back. By the end of the Infinitus run, I’ll be over 2,000 miles for the year.
Q: What is your game plan for the race? How many miles each day?
A: It’s 552 miles, and it’s a continuous clock, so you have 10 days to finish. Right now, my plan is to go 70-ish miles each segment, and then I’m going to rest for four or five hours. In that rest time, there’s going to be an hour of coming down off of the running, a couple of hours of sleep and then an hour of coming back up and getting ready to run. It won’t be by day, per say, but that segment is kind of what I’m calling a day.
Q: Can you tell us more about the logistics of the race? How will you stay fueled and hydrated?
A: The plan I have right now is the basic plan I use for most of my races. At all times, I’ll have a big bottle of water and a big bottle of Gatorade. I’ll also have energy gels and then some type of solid food, like sandwiches or granola bars. Every 10 minutes, I’ll take a sip of either water or Gatorade. Every hour, I’ll have an energy gel. I’ll have real food every few hours. Within the main lodge, the start and stop areas, they’ll have real food cooking. I’ll be staying in a cabin, which is where I’ll rest.
Q: What about your mental game plan? How will you stay focused through all those miles? What will motivate you to keep going on day 6, 7, 8?
A: I’m not thinking about it in terms of miles. If you do that, the entirety of it is just going to bog you down. You have to think about it in terms of something more manageable. So, what I’ll think about is 20 loops – that’s all I have to do. I can do 20 of something. Within the big loop, there will be an aid station every six or seven miles to help me refuel or grab a quick snack. Within that, every 10 minutes I’ll be doing something, whether it’s taking a drink of water or eating something. So it’s living in that 10-minute segment. I’ll have three iPod shuffles. On each one, I’ll have seven or eight hours of music. I’ll try to have different music on each one. An upbeat song will cause someone to go faster, whereas as a mellow song will cause you to slow down, so it will be interesting.
Q: How many pairs of shoes are you planning to bring?
A: I’ll be bringing four pairs.
Q: What is the first thing you’re planning to do immediately after you finish the race?
A: I’ll probably call home as soon as I can. And then if there’s anybody out there that’s getting close to the finish, I’ll do what I can to help them get across the line.
This was the sound that the fresh soil made, blanketing the roots of five newly planted ornamental trees at Milwaukee Environmental Sciences Academy. Add the squeals of delight from school children getting a little dirt under their nails in the planting process and high-fives from Bango. School staff, Bucks Volundeers, ATC, media and many others all gathered for it – another Trees for Threes planting event.
“It’s the second year that ATC has partnered with the Milwaukee Bucks for this program, which has benefitted both schools and communities,” said Bucks Senior Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility Alicia Dupies. “Eighty-three schools in ATC’s service area across the state of Wisconsin applied online and received trees this year. The 343 three-pointers made were the second-most in a season in franchise history. I’d like to also give a special congratulations to Khris Middleton too, who led the team in this initiative by scoring 68 three-point shots this season.”
The collective number of trees equaled the number of three-point shots the Bucks scored at home during the 2017-2018 season – and that means there are now 343 new trees going in the ground.
“The Trees for Trees program was a huge win for communities last year, and this year for schools too,” said Anne Spaltholz, ATC’s director of corporate communications. “ATC supports programs that focus on the environment, education, and health and wellness. Trees for Threes encompasses all three, and these kids have just planted a gift that will keep on giving well into the future.”
“We’re so honored to have five new trees here today,” said Milwaukee Environmental Sciences Academy Principal Michael Morgan. “It’s especially meaningful for us, being an environmental school. Since two of the trees are apple trees, two are crabapple and one is a magnolia, kids will learn more about cross-pollination. But since all the trees are flowering trees, it just beautifies our entire courtyard.”
“Particularly today, this tree planting is unique because they are flowering ornamentals that will benefit pollinators,” said Spaltholz. “At ATC, we encourage low-growing, compatible vegetation that also benefits pollinators through our pollinator program.”
Nearly 100 students quickly handled business by getting those flowering ornamentals in the ground. And Bango’s take on it all? Well, he’s a deer of few words. But no one could overlook his quiet enthusiasm for the new trees – and for the kids who helped make it all happen.
Despite the occasional cool rain showers (and even snow in years past), it doesn’t stop visitors from coming to the Milwaukee County Zoo’s annual Party for the Planet. How do we know? ATC has been a sponsor of this event for over a decade.
“Party for the Planet is one of our favorite events here,” said Laura Pedriani, marketing and communications director the Milwaukee County Zoo. “It really covers so much of what the Zoo is about and we’re so happy to be able to partner with American Transmission Co.”
ATC’s message for Zoo visitors at Party for the Planet is focused on pollinator education. Those who stopped at the ATC booth in the US Bank Gathering Place played our pollinator wheel game by guessing if the animal shown once the wheel stopped really was a pollinator or not. Bats? Yes. Horses? No. And so on. Kids also got to see what they’d look like as a pollinator with our free photo op and visitors picked up their Grow Smart® planting guide, pollinator planting guide and Tall Tickseed seed packets to help attract pollinators.
ATC’s featured pollinator garden is maintained in the Family Fun Farm just down the hill from the main entrance. Zoo visitors who stopped there had the opportunity to meet nationally known gardening expert, TV/radio host, author and columnist Melinda Myers and plant native species alongside her to help revitalize ATC’s beautiful pollinator garden. The lure is the same for all those who visit: plant now, and come back to the Zoo to see how it’s grown.
“What’s really fun is that I have kids who want to stay planting once they get to the garden and then say that they don’t need to see the animals,” said Myers with a chuckle.
“As a company, we’re pretty dedicated to the environment, and helping pollinators,” said Mary Carpenter, senior local relations representative. “We operate approximately 9,600 miles of transmission lines, which is a lot utility line corridor. We’re really trying to use those rights-of-way to educate people on the importance of native and compatible vegetation and how that can help sustain the pollinator population.”
“The pollinator garden at the Zoo is a great example of what ATC is doing in their utility corridors to help pollinators,” said Myers. “I’m very proud to be part of this program and I find that people are very receptive and understanding that if you want power, you’ve got to really adjust what is planted underneath transmission lines. Ultimately – it’s a win-win for us, and for the pollinators as well.”
Tom Dagenais, manager, strategic project planning, develops solutions for the future of the electric transmission grid within American Transmission Co.’s service area. He says ATC is the perfect fit for him because he knows what he does makes a difference.
“There’s a lot of passion; you can tell that day in, day out in what people do. It seems that everyone understands that what we do is important. We keep the lights on,” said Dagenais. “What we’re doing has a great deal of value for the community at large, and that’s rewarding.”
Beyond powering communities, Dagenais says he appreciates that ATC is as invested in his community as he is.
“ATC really has a strong community involvement. I think that’s a source of pride for the people who work here – that ATC does try to give back to the community and is very active in doing so. It’s just nice to be part of an organization that cares,” Dagenais said.
Dagenais has been with ATC for nearly 14 years total. In that time, he has grown from an individual contributor to a leader. He says he chose ATC twice, once in 2004 and again in 2010 after a brief departure to work in consulting, because of the growth opportunities offered.
“ATC has a great culture of trying to give people opportunities and expand their breadth of knowledge – expand their horizons. We allow, especially younger engineers, to move from department to department to experience new things and see the industry from a different side. I think that’s very valuable for them,” he said. “It was valuable for me as a young engineer.”
Now in a leadership role, he works to make sure newer engineers on his team have opportunities to learn, challenge themselves and expand their perspectives. At the same time, he encourages his team to embrace work-life balance.
“We strive to have a good work-life balance here at ATC, and I certainly strive to do that as well. I have two small children,” he said. “I always tell my team, ‘Your family comes first, no matter what.’”
Dagenais says he believes ATC is an ideal landing place, especially for newer engineers.
“We’ve got posters hanging up around the office touting the awards we’ve won as a great place to work, and it’s actually true,” he said. “It is a great place to work.”
If you are interested in joining Dagenais and being part of the ATC team, browse our open positions.