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2022 | TIFO

TerraGraphics International Foundation (TIFO), a Moscow nonprofit, is the University of Idaho Martin Institute’s 2022 Distinction in International Service Award (DISA) winner.

Selected by students and staff at the Martin Institute, the DISA annually recognizes noteworthy internationally focused nongovernmental organizations based in the Pacific Northwest.

Comprised of scientists who apply environmental cleanup and health intervention to hazardous sites in low and middle-income countries, TIFO often works with emergency responders to clean up lead contamination in villages. Teams help set up medical clinics, remove contaminated soil, educate villagers and help them return to their homes.

TIFO was born as the nonprofit successor to TerraGraphics Environmental Engineering (TG) and the U of I International Initiative. TG worked with local, state and federal governments to address environmental contamination in the U.S., and the UI initiative adapted and implemented hazardous waste site cleanup methods outside the country. Von Braun and von Lindern, a husband-and-wife team, co-founded TIFO in 2012 to continue this work in the nonprofit sector.

TIFO co-founder Ian Von Lindern said he was honored that TIFO was recognized as this year’s recipient. One of TIFO’s goals, he said, is to promote environment health activism in younger generations. The latest recognition was meaningful coming from U of I since TIFO has a long-standing relationship with the university through the U of I International Initiative. In addition, TIFO co-founder Margrit von Braun directed the Environmental Science and Environmental Engineering programs from 1993-2003 before serving as dean of the College of Graduate Studies. She retired in 2011.

“We often work with Doctors Without Borders, which greatly reduces our infrastructure requirements and helps us with special needs and travel,” von Lindern said. “We rely on our graduate students to collect fieldwork. We also rely on personal contacts, often retirees who still want to do good in the world.”

TIFO’s continued collaboration with U of I includes providing guest speakers for university events and sponsoring graduate students to do fieldwork at international sites. The organization has sponsored two doctoral students and 20 to 30 master’s students.

Visit TIFO's website to discover their projects in Armenia, Bangladesh, Duck Valley Indian Reservation, Dominican Republic, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Peru, Russia and Senegal as they improve environmental health around the world.

The TIFO and DISA teams in front of the admin building
The TIFO and DISA teams, including co-founder Ian von Lindern, after receiving the award.
Removing contaminated soil in Senegal
Removing contaminated soil in Senegal, Africa.

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