Pam Ulicny is more than just a biology teacher from Hegins, PA; she is the volunteer that thanks us out of the blue for organizing a cleanup, the teacher that gets her entire community to rally behind an illegal dumpsite, and is the first person to put on gloves at the cleanup and last to leave.
What got you interested in volunteering for a UBB cleanup?
My awareness about United by Blue came, in fact, from “out of the blue”! It all started last November when a colleague from our county’s conservation district notified me of UBB’s intentions to clean up a dump site which happened to be within our school district. Once I heard that there was already a plan set in place to clean up one of our biggest garbage dumps, it was easy to raise awareness to the students, their families, and other community members.
How do you feel when you see how many of your students at the cleanups?
When teaching Environmental Science, you teach the concept of the consequences of pollution, which leaves students with a more negative or even fatalistic point of view. But through action, we can make a positive difference and commit to working towards environmental solutions. As an educator, there is no greater reward or outcome than to see our students taking action and ownership.
Any tips, tricks, or advice for people thinking of coming to a UBB cleanup?
ANYONE can come and help and can make a difference! At our cleanup, we had students from elementary school to high school, honor society and football team members, teachers and secretaries working side by side. We even had mothers come with baby carriers on their backs.
Any other thoughts you’d like to share?
The UBB cleanup was the literal ‘watershed moment’ that our community needed; it brought forth an attainable goal, it pooled forces together, and helped to show our community that a day’s worth of sweat equity can make an improvement our environmental health. When the day was over, we could see a visible change in the dump site and we were certain that we helped to make our land and our streams cleaner. If it weren’t for the inspiration provided by United by Blue, I’d be less likely to have volunteered to become the president of our local watershed association. With the experience of a UBB cleanup under my belt, I hope to eventually organize and run our own future streamside cleanups.