It’s easy to recognize a gathering of Facilities Planning & Management staff: just look at the clothing. Sporting everything from suits and sweaters to steel-toed work boots and neon green tee shirts, FP&M employees came together at the Gordon Dining and Event Center on August 21st for the FP&M Employee Recognition Awards. They shared refreshments and conversation before the ceremony began, then settled at tables to celebrate their colleagues.
The FP&M Employee Recognition Awards were established as a response to a good problem: employees were doing exemplary work across all realms of university operations, but there was not a formal means of recognizing them each year. To include all FP&M employees, the awards are held at two different times of day: midday for first shift, and 11pm for second and third shifts.
Two members of the Office of Sustainability—Professor Cathy Middlecamp and Green Fund Project Manager Ian Aley—as well as UW Housing Sustainability Coordinator Breana Nehls, nominated Lyle Jelle for the 2018 Platinum Award. For over five years, Jelle has served as the head the Waste & Recycling unit of the FP&M Physical Plant, where he has made significant contributions in waste and recycling operations on campus, while also showing his strong commitment to sustainability.
The Platinum award is presented to an employee who:
- Demonstrates integrity by being trustworthy, respectful, and accountable
- Models character by selflessly and consistently working towards team achievement
- Performs work assignments accurately and according to professional standards
- Promotes high standards for honesty, responsibility, and perseverance
- Helps others by sharing job-related knowledge and available resources effectively and efficiently
- Follows through on commitments
Other awards categories included Teamwork, Customer Service, Innovation, “Going Above and Beyond,” and the AVC Excellence Award. All awards include both a framed certificate and cash bonus.
Professor Cathy Middlecamp, and her graduate teaching assistants, Tim Lindstrom and Tom Bryan, had the pleasure of working with Lyle to engage students in learning about campus waste for the past six years. Their course, Environmental Studies 126, serves as a “Living Laboratory for Sustainability” and educates students on energy, food, and trash at UW-Madison. “Bridging academics and facilities brings no small set of challenges. Lyle demonstrates that not only is this bridge possible, but also that it can be done to the benefit of all involved,” Middlecamp said.
Jelle provided support to the course by coordinating the pickup and delivery of trash for their two-week laboratory activity of doing campus residence hall trash audits. Lindstrom explained that the trash audit activity is a highlight for their course each semester, and Jelle and his team went out of their way to secure bags of trash for students to comb through as they learned about campus waste streams.
“He has been a dedicated and reliable partner who is willing to go above and beyond his professional responsibilities in supporting our mission of campus-based teaching and learning. Ours has been a fruitful partnership, as the data our students collect regarding contamination rates is then shared with Lyle and used by Facilities Planning & Management to improve best practices for responsible waste management on our campus,” Lindstrom says.
In addition, Jelle collaborates with the UW-Madison Green Fund, a grant for student projects that reduce the environmental impact and operating costs of facilities on campus and the Office of Sustainability Student Intern program. Ian Aley, the Green Fund Program Manager, frequently works with Jelle to support student projects and coordinate composting efforts on campus. Jelle has assisted with a variety of solid waste projects, particularly related to compost.
“Lyle’s willingness to engage with students allows FP&M to harness the energy and connections of students. Not only has the UW introduced a compost program on campus under his leadership, but he has successfully engaged students to educate their peers in order to reduce contamination of the food waste stream,” says Aley.
His expertise on campus waste streams also helps University Housing and its Sustainability Committee to successfully meet their annual sustainability goals. Jelle led the efforts in transitioning toward a more robust compost processing system that creates cleaner compost streams on campus. He also plays an integral role in planning the Housing Sustainability Move Out program and helping with on-site management during the event to ensure its success. From planning sustainable paths forward to servicing waste and recycling practices, Jelle combines a practical knowledge of UW operations with a commitment to sustainability.
“Having Lyle on our team allows Housing to seamlessly provide waste reduction opportunities for our residents, something that would not be possible without the Waste and Recycling team,” says Breana Nehls, the Sustainability Coordinator for University Housing. “In fact, in 2017 Lyle’s support helped Housing divert over 129,000 pounds of material from the landfill during move out … This was the first year our donation/recycling weight outweighed our trash weight.”
Jelle, who has been with UW-Madison since October of 1979, shared his gratitude for the award and for his team at the Physical Plant. He also remained characteristically humble, insisting that he has been “just doing my job and trying to take care of my customers.”
We’re all here for the students,” Jelle continued. “And they are my customers, as is everyone else on campus.”
By: Nathan Jandl and Trina La Susa