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Omaha-area rocketry operation THOR receives Lozier Community Grant support for educational outreach

Omaha-area rocketry operation THOR receives Lozier Community Grant support for educational outreach

In its second year, the employee-led Lozier Community Grant program supported 50 nonprofit organizations across the country. Recipients were selected by employee committees in all five Lozier locations.  Over the next couple of months, the recipient organizations’ stories of impact will be shared on LozierLink.

For Roy Tyson and Joe Ebacher, their shared passion for rocketry is a lifelong thrill.

“Most of us started as a kid at some point, got out of it and then came back to it once we get adult money and start doing bigger projects,” Tyson said.

“It’s so rewarding, it’s so very rewarding,” Ebacher added. “To be able to see people connect the dots and fly rockets is just fun.”

The men are President and Vice-President, respectively, of The Heartland Organization of Rocketry, a Midwest-based group dedicated to delivering STEM-based education and crafting skills to anyone interested in learning. The group’s members are totally volunteer, giving their free time, effort and insight to the aspiring rocketeers.

“You can go and spend $20 and launch a rocket right alongside us,” Tyson said, referring to the group’s long-tenured members, “who might be spending ten times that.” Sharing the educational opportunities far and wide, THOR has partnered with a number of operations throughout Nebraska and Iowa.

“We’ve got Boy Scouts, we’ve got 4-H, we’ve got the New Century Art Guild,” Tyson listed, stressing the group’s efforts to work with students of all ages, including recovering military veterans as part of their rehabilitative therapy. The education is excellent, they said, but it can be expensive.

“We’re not a big organization, we’re 100 percent volunteer,” Tyson said. Looking for ways to eliminate the financial barrier for students, THOR applied to the Lozier Community Grant Program. Tyson, an Area Manager at OneOmaha North Plant, wasn’t sure if the group would be selected, but was pleased to learn THOR was one of the 15 Omaha-area organizations selected, even receiving more funding that they’d initially requested.

“Roy and I just jabbered about it for hours before we let anybody know, because it was that exciting,” Ebacher remembered. “It showed the commitment of Lozier and the community to them trusting us with their children and learning more about rocketry. It was the most exciting day of my life.”

Much of the money has gone toward increasing THOR’s already-stellar safety efforts, ensuring the group can launch more rockets on flying days.

“We spend probably as much time dealing with safety equipment, safety procedures, safety standards as we do actually flying rockets on launch day,” Tyson said. In addition, THOR will eliminate the financial barrier for many groups taking part, ensuring that everyone has a chance to set off into the skies.

“We’re reaching out to Boys and Girls Club, Scouts, all of the groups I mentioned earlier,” Tyson said. “And there’s no mention of money now, because of the Lozier grant, we can offer these STEM activities free of charge.”

The Heartland Organization of Rocketry said it’s ready for the great things to come with the Lozier Grant, and is thankful for the people that made it a reality, supporting science-based, hands-on educational opportunities like these.

“I just want them to konw how appreciate we are of the Grant itself,” Tyson said. “This is something that will change the club forever. We’re going to expose this hobby to a whole new set of kids of all ages.”

“Thanks for trusting us, THOR and our awesome hobby to be able to promote and bring it to the children of the future,” Ebacher added.