One to One-Hundred: The Growth of NAYGN Local Chapters

05 Jun, 2012

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National Nuclear Science Week

Much as a sports franchise has a core group of players that are the heart and soul of the team local Chapters form the nucleus of the North American Young Generation in Nuclear (NAYGN). Since the organization’s inception, local chapters have conducted nearly 340,000 hours of activities in support of their members.

“It is great to see what an impact the local chapters have made,” said Nicole Faulk, the founding leader of the Southern Nuclear Local chapters and founding NA-YGN member. “When I kicked-off the first chapters, I was hoping we could make a difference locally and create excitement in among our young professionals.”

 

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The first NAYGN chapters were established in 2000 by Southern Nuclear and Dominion. They were created to help counter years of sluggish hiring as the industry recognized the overwhelming need to reinvigorate enthusiasm amongst young professionals. Without renewed interest, the odds were against the industry in maintaining a top-flight workforce available to run the plants through a 20 year license extension.

“It wasn’t that long ago, but things were different back then. We were taking a gamble entering the industry. Many told us that we’d spend our entire careers decommissioning plants because no one believed a nuclear renaissance was possible,” said Faulk. “It has sure turned out quite differently and I think we had a part in that.”

Many of the early local chapters were established because a group of young professionals were passionate about sharing their enthusiasm for nuclear with others. The organization had some early successes when NAYGN members began attending public meetings and debunking myths about nuclear energy.

NAYGN knew having engaged local chapters was a way to differentiate the organization from other professional societies. The organization set a goal to have 50 local chapters by the annual conference in 2008.

“I knew we needed to expand the organization away from just the continental organizers if we were going to have an impact,” said David Pointer, past president of NAYGN.

One of the first activities NAYGN organized was the poster contest. Local chapter members educate elementary students about the benefits of nuclear science and technology. Since its inception in 1999, tens of thousands of students have participated in this program.

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Significant effort was put into the development of new chapters beginning in 2006 in order to meet the 50 chapter goal. One hurdle the organization had to overcome was that some industry executives were hesitant to support NAYGN because they didn’t see the value of having a new professional society. To make its case, NAYGN created an innovative end-of-year metrics report to collect individual chapter activity information.

“Response to our first year’s report of end of year metrics was a surprise. Even though we only reported 12,500 hours of activity, industry executives were impressed because this was more effort than any other professional society could document,” Pointer added.

NAYGN reached its 50-chapter goal in 2008 and realized it needed a larger infrastructure to support the growing number of local chapters. Consequently, the chapters were split up into regions and leads were appointed to help organize regional activities.

This infrastructure came just in time since an additional 31 chapters joined NAYGN in 2009. With a total of 81 local chapters, this was the greatest single year of growth for the organization.

“I was the Carolina’s regional Lead during this time of expansion,” said Adam Strange. “And it seemed like every week a new chapter was announced.”

As with any venture there are successes and failures. Not all local chapters have been successful, with seven closing due to a lack of sustainable interest. Two of these chapters reorganized and were able to kick-off a second time, and NAYGN achieved a significant milestone when the 100th chapter was established at Edgen Murray on June 5, 2012.

“When I came to Edgen Murray I realized my colleagues could use the opportunities NAYGN provides. I was excited to learn that this will be the centennial chapter of such a great organization,” Strange said.

NAYGN was established in 1999. The group now has 100 local chapters and over 9,000 members.

2010 NA-YGN National Conference in San Francisco


Elizabeth is the Past President of North American Young Generation in Nuclear.

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