40 Moments in NCAT History ~ Archive

NCAT 40th Anniversary Icon

In celebration of the National Center for Appropriate Technology’s 40th anniversary in 2016, we’re looking back at highlights of the past four decades. Keep watching the countdown of 40 Moments in NCAT History.


Dr. Jerry Plunkett


On August 19, 2016, NCAT held a 40th anniversary celebration at its Butte, Montana, headquarters from 10-12. The event featured remarks by Montana Governor Steve Bullock, the dedication of our new 45kW solar array, activities for children and families, and a solar energy workshop. Winning entries from the ATTRAGRAM sustainable agriculture photo contest were also featured. The public was invited to attend. More information >>
Posted on: August 19th, 2016

Dr. Jerry Plunkett


Montana Senator Mike Mansfield became the champion for the NCAT project. Senator Mansfield gave the assignment of bringing NCAT into existence to a young staff member named Dave Brown. Here, the two of them celebrate the passage of official legislation funding NCAT. After an intense and difficult planning process, NCAT was officially created in 1976, with initial funding of $3 million from the Community Services Administration and the goal of “encouraging widespread use of appropriate technologies that help alleviate problems of low-income Americans.” NCAT agreed to dedicate the first year of its program to the research and development of energy-related technologies to help the poor, and to provide technical assistance to the CSA Weatherization Project.
Posted on: August 18th, 2016

Dr. Jerry Plunkett


The ten original NCAT board members at the organization’s founding in 1976 were Harriet Barlow, John Brown, Cecil Cook, Moses Freeman, Jack Hershey, Sam Love, Tony Maggiore, Bob Meskunas, Alfred Navarro, and Helga Olkowski. Brown, Freeman, and Maggiore continued to serve on the NCAT board for nearly 30 years.
Posted on: August 17th, 2016

Dr. Jerry Plunkett


The person generally credited with coming up with the idea for NCAT is Dr. Jerry Plunkett, an engineer/inventor who founded MERDI—the Montana Energy Research & Development Institute. Plunkett received a $110,000 planning grant from the federal Community Services Administration (CSA) in 1975, to bring together experts and plan a research center that would develop technologies for low-income communities.
Posted on: August 16th, 2016

Guy Ames


NCAT salutes long-term employees of the organization with more than 20 years of continual service: Mary Anne Skuletich, Kathy Hadley, Jody Krzan, and Cathy Svejkovsky. We also thank long-term employees of NCAT John McBride and Vicki Paul, who moved on to work at New Horizon Technologies Energy Services, LLC. And we acknowledge the long-term service of retired managers Kay Joslin and Jeff Birkby. Shown here, staff member Guy Ames in 1990.
Posted on: August 15th, 2016


Kathy Hadley

Kathy Hadley, shown here in 1987, became NCAT’s Executive Director in August of 1997. During her tenure, the organization has opened numerous regional offices, significantly diversified its revenue stream, and played a key role in the development and administration of Energy Corps and Food Corps service programs, among many other accomplishments.
Posted on: August 12th, 2016


Rose Sullivan librarian
In 2000, NCAT installed solar photovoltaic systems on 12 Montana schools and provided curriculum for students to use in conjunction with electricity generation. Over the next several years, “Sun4Schools” installed 2-kilowatt (kW), grid-connected photovoltaic systems on a total of 32 middle and high schools in Iowa and Montana. NCAT also developed the curriculum unit to be used by participating schools as a “hands-on” complement to the installed systems.

Posted on: August 11th, 2016


Rose Sullivan librarianRose Sullivan, Library Specialist for NCAT in Butte, Montana, worked for NCAT beginning in 1978, retired in the 1990s, and later returned to work for the organization. On the occasion of her 90th birthday, NCAT established a scholarship in her name, to fund textbooks for children of NCAT employees. Here, NCAT Chief Operating Officer Marcia Brown and Director Kathy Hadley announce the award.

Posted on: August 10th, 2016


solar for fire stationsIn 2003, with funding from NorthWestern Energy’s Universal Systems Benefits (USB) fund, NCAT began installing grid-connected solar electric systems on fire stations, as demonstrations of solar electric technology. Each system included a battery bank to provide an un-interruptible power supply. During the next three years, NCAT’s project installed 19 systems on fire stations around Montana.

Posted on: August 9th, 2016


alternative energyIn 2000, using funding provided by public benefit programs, NCAT began pilot demonstration renewable energy projects for residential and agricultural energy consumers in Montana. NCAT has installed solar hot-water systems on 10 low income residences and installed 33 small-scale (<10 kW) wind energy systems.

Posted on: August 8th, 2016


ATTRAIn 1997, NCAT introduced its sustainable agriculture website. In the years since, the ATTRA website (www.attra.ncat.org) has become a respected and reliable source of sustainable agriculture information, offering hundreds of online publications, searchable databases, tutorials, an events calendar, and daily news stories.

Posted on: August 5th, 2016


assisted housingFrom 1996-2003, NCAT provided free technical assistance to public and tribal housing authorities (via a toll-free telephone line and website) in the area of energy and water usage reduction. Through federal grant funding, the Public Housing Energy Conservation Clearinghouse provided technical assistance, information, training, and other appropriate service-related activities aimed at improving resource efficiency in public housing and publicly assisted housing.

Posted on: August 4th, 2016


McKnight FoundationIn 1998, NCAT coordinated the Mississippi Riverwise Partnership to help reduce excess nitrogen flow to the Gulf of Mexico that contributes to the dead zone. This project, funded by the McKnight Foundation, encouraged improved industrial and municipal waste treatment and better agricultural practices throughout the 31-state Mississippi River Basin.

Posted on: August 3rd, 2016


Kellogg FoundationNCAT was named one of five National Policy Support Organizations for Managing Information with Rural America, a project that the W.K. Kellogg Foundation launched in 1997 and concluded in 2001. Through the project, NCAT was able to set up eight community technology centers in rural Lee County, Arkansas. MIRA funds trained a corps of adults and high school students to coach community residents in computer skills.

posted on: August 2nd, 2016


floodingWhen flooding damaged Pattonsburg, Missouri, in 1993, NCAT was chosen to participate in a multi-agency team that received DOE and FEMA funding to guide a rebuilding process using the most suitable technologies. In the course of the Pattonsburg project, NCAT compiled a database of sustainable development programs, case studies, and research to inform communities and agencies engaged in rebuilding. This activity became the impetus for NCAT’s continuing role providing sustainable development information to state and local governments, nonprofits, and individuals.

posted on: August 1st, 2016


pest managementIn 1994, NCAT started working with the National Park Service on Integrated Pest Management. Sustainable agriculture staff met with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service IPM coordinators to help them learn how to create IPM plans. NCAT also worked with the National Park Service to incorporate sustainable agriculture practices at parks in Mississippi and Pennsylvania, and along the 500-mile Natchez Trace Parkway.

posted on: July 29th, 2016


irrigation help MontanaIn 1993, NCAT embarked on long-term projects helping Montana irrigators to improve water and energy efficiency. The Montana Rivers Project applied new field-based soil moisture monitoring technology to help ranchers and farmers determine when to irrigate and how much water they should put on hay fields. The Montana Rivers Project included 18 irrigators on the Jefferson River by 1999.

posted on: July 28th, 2016


Melodie PesantiMelodie Pensanti answers calls for the National Energy Assistance Referral (NEAR). NEAR is a free service operated by NCAT for persons who want information on where to apply for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which may pay a portion of the energy bills of eligible low-income persons.

posted on: July 27th, 2016


shetland sheepIn August 2007, NCAT hosted a Sustainability Fest with exhibits and activities for the Butte community. Among exhibits set up at the NCAT headquarters building were Energy Engineer Vicki Lynne’s Shetland sheep.

posted on: July 26th, 2016


energy corpA cohort of Energy Corps members in Montana is sworn in at a ceremony in Butte in November 2012. Energy Corps was created to address unmet community energy needs by promoting sustainable energy consumption and education, fostering community sustainability, and helping to mitigate the effects of global climate change.

posted on: July 25th, 2016


liheapSince 1988, the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) has operated the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Clearinghouse through a training and technical assistance contract from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Children and Families, Office of Community Services, Division of Energy Assistance. The Clearinghouse collects, develops, organizes and disseminates information on low-income energy issues.

posted on: July 22nd, 2016


sustainable developmentFrom 1995 to 2005, NCAT operated the Center of Excellence for Sustainable Development, an Internet site on sustainable development that it created for the U.S. Department of Energy.

posted on: July 21st, 2016


community actionFrom 1977 to 1981, NCAT ran an Appropriate Technology Small Grants Program. By 1980 NCAT had awarded about 360 grants totaling $2.7 million to Community Action programs and other community groups. The main focus of this work was renewable energy and conservation, but NCAT also worked on housing issues, food production, transportation, and economic development. NCAT received at least 1,000 grant proposals per year during this period.

posted on: July 20th, 2016


Jeff BirkbyNCAT operated The National Appropriate Technology Assistance Service (NATAS) from Butte, Montana, from 1984-1994. With funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, NATAS offered an information clearinghouse, technical assistance service, and toll-free phone line. Staff responded to more than 80,000 requests for assistance. Here, NATAS manager Jeff Birkby takes a call in 1988.

posted on: July 19th, 2016


Arkansas senator Dale BumpersIn 1999, NCAT’s Planting Your Farm’s Future sustainable agriculture road show concluded its travels, having reached thousands of farmers and ranchers across Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Montana. The exhibit was staffed by farmers and ranchers who changed their own operations to be more diverse, profitable, and environmentally sustainable.

posted on: July 18th, 2016


Arkansas senator Dale BumpersArkansas Senator Dale Bumpers speaks to staff members at NCAT’s Fayetteville, Arkansas, office.

posted on: July 15th, 2016


board of directors meetingNCAT Board of Directors current president Gene Brady (center), at a board meeting in Pennsylvania in 2007 with board members George Ortiz and Jacqueline Hutchinson. NCAT’s national Board of Directors meets several times each year to plan, oversee the organization’s administration, and tour NCAT offices and projects.

posted on: July 14th, 2016


installation of solar panelsSolar panels are installed on the historic NCAT headquarters building in Butte, Montana, in 2000. The panels have supplied electricity to the building since then. In 2016, a free-standing solar array will be added to power the building.

posted on: July 13th, 2016


NCAT regional officesFormer NCAT Board of Directors member Chuck Ebert with guests at the grand opening of NCAT’s Southwest Regional Office in San Antonio, Texas, in 2011. There are six NCAT offices serving different regions of the country. Find contact information at www.ncat.org/offices/.

posted on: July 12th, 2016


food Corps MembersFood Corps members in Arkansas, during their training in 2015. FoodCorps is a nationwide team of AmeriCorps leaders who connect kids to real food and help them grow up healthy. NCAT is currently the statewide host organization for Food Corps in Arkansas, in Montana, and in Mississippi. We participate in selection of service members, coordinate a network of service sites, and direct the FoodCorps program across the state. The national Food Corps program is based on a model pioneered by the Grow Montana Coalition and the National Center for Appropriate Technology in 2006, headed by staff member Crissie McMullan.

posted on: July 11th, 2016


Energy Corps MembersParticipants at a Sound and Sensible workshop on organic certification in Alabama in 2015, one of a series of workshops NCAT organized throughout the Gulf States to help agricultural producers learn about how they could become certified organic.

posted on: July 8th, 2016


Energy Corps MembersRegistration at the 14th annual Harvesting Clean Energy conference, organized by NCAT in 2015. This premier regional gathering of the agriculture, forestry, and energy industries helps advance rural economic development through clean energy development, and maximizing profits by practicing good stewardship.

posted on: July 7th, 2016


Energy Corps MembersEight Energy Corps AmeriCorps members are sworn in at a ceremony in Pennsylvania in 2011. The Energy Corps AmeriCorps project is an initiative of NCAT in cooperation with The Corporation for National and Community Service. Energy Corps was created to address unmet community energy needs by promoting sustainable energy consumption and education, fostering community sustainability, and helping to mitigate the effects of global climate change.

posted on: July 6th, 2016


ATF ParticipantsNCAT’s Small-Scale Intensive Farm Training Program (SIFT) is an intensive, hands-on training program that teaches farmers and future farmers, urban food producers, community leaders, and citizens how to commercially produce high-value, nutrient-rich food on small parcels of land. Here’s a photo of crops growing in one of the hoop houses built in 2011.

posted on: July 5th, 2016


ATF ParticipantsMontana Senator Jon Tester talks with NCAT staff on a visit to our Butte, Montana, headquarters in 2012.

posted on: July 1st, 2016


ATF ParticipantsNCAT Board of Directors member John Brown speaks at a ceremony in Memphis, Tennessee , in 1987, launching Appropriate Technology Transfer to Rural Areas (ATTRA). Today, the ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture program www.attra.ncat.org is still committed to providing high value information and technical assistance to farmers, ranchers, Extension agents, educators, and others involved in sustainable agriculture in the United States.

posted on: June 30th, 2016


ATF ParticipantsThe 2015 Armed to Farm group tours Love Creek Orchard in Medina, Texas. Armed to Farm is a week-long training program that introduces veterans to sustainable agriculture. Since 2010, NCAT has conducted these trainings in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Texas, with more planned for New York and Montana in 2016.

posted on: June 29th, 2016


NCAT’s annual electronics recycling event in Butte, Montana, in 2009, and in 2016. Oh, how it’s grown.
posted on: June 28th, 2016


NCAT managers Dale Horton, Teresa Maurer, Jeff Birkby, and Rex Dufour, from our offices across the country, meeting in 2009 at our Butte, Montana, headquarters.
posted on: June 27th, 2016


Tammy Howard

Tammy Howard conducts an NCAT webinar on Hoop Houses in 2009. An archive of webinars produced by our ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture program is online at https://attra.ncat.org/video/

posted on: June 24th, 2016