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It's a Big Year for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility

by Danni Hammontree | Feb 17, 2020

It’s a Big Year for NBAF!
By Katie Pawlosky, NBAF Director of Communications

2020 is a big year for all of us at the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan, Kansas. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) remains on budget and on schedule to complete construction by the end of this year. If you take a drive by the facility, you’ll see trees being planted around the NBAF campus; a definite sign the project is progressing.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which will operate NBAF after construction is complete, is diligently working to staff the facility and to plan a vigorous science and technology program to ensure our nation is prepared for and protected against high-consequence animal diseases. Our USDA NBAF staff is also working closely with the team from the Plum Island Animal Disease Center to ensure a smooth transition over the next couple of years.

This time last year, we had a mere seven USDA NBAF employees on the team here in Manhattan. As of this month, we’re close to 120 employees—including our director, Dr. Alfonso Clavijo—who comes with experience managing biosafety level (BSL) 2-4 facilities. By August, we’re planning to have about 80 percent of our total operational workforce in place, which means hiring another 80 employees this year for positions in administration, lab and animal support, information technology, science programs and more. If you know anyone interested in working at NBAF, please ask them to look for openings on the USAJobs website at www.usajobs.gov.

We’re particularly excited about the culture that’s forming at NBAF. Our team has been working together to build employee involvement through a variety of committees. One committee, called the NBAF Inclusive Council on Engagement (NICE), is being formed to assist in recommending and supporting activities at NBAF that will promote employee retention and work-life quality and will also increase awareness of diversity, equal employment opportunities and civil rights. Additionally, NICE has made a commitment to engage with the community by partnering with local charities and organizations to help further their missions.

Continuing and expanding on the outreach efforts started by DHS over the last several years is also a priority. It’s critical that we provide accurate information to the communities surrounding NBAF so that we “demystify” the research, diagnostics and training that will occur in the facility and help people understand the national and global importance of our mission. In 2019, the NBAF team provided over 40 NBAF update presentations to local groups, USDA leadership, industry and scientific associations, and Congressional committees. With the help of our growing communications team, we will reach an even broader audience this year.

We hope 2020 is off to a great start for each of you, and we look forward to speaking and collaborating with many of you this year. If you or anyone you know has a group that’s interested in an update on what’s happening at NBAF, please have them email us at nbaf@usda.gov.

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