Conservation concerns motivate Tri-Valley sophomores into action
Published: January 24, 2013
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HEGINS - By the second week of school, Tri-Valley High School's Jordon Glosek was already thinking of a productive way to use his study hall time.
The Pitman sophomore, along with classmates Josh Morgan and Brandon Fosmire, took a lead role in conservation efforts at their school. Their hands-on approach during their study period has resulted in visible improvements at the district's environmental site and on-going opportunities inside the high school for students concerned about their environment.
"I like working in the outdoors and making good use of my time," said Glosek, 15, a vo-tech student who is studying collision repair.
Most of the sophomores had a study hall during fifth period, the same time period Science Teacher Pamela S. Ulicny had her prep and planning time. She agreed to use her planning time to take the student volunteers to the environmental site, located behind the high school in Hegins.
"They are uniquely self-motivated, they have a genuine concern for conservation issues, work constructively as a team, and they are clever and creative problem-solvers," said Ulicny, who teaches Life Science, Biology and Environmental Science.
Morgan, a welding student, said he started assisting with animal aquarium maintenance in Ulicny's classroom and saw the need to do more.
"I wanted to help out more and wanted to remove trash from the local stream and clean up the (hiking) paths," said Morgan, 15, of Valley View. "I'm big on the outdoors and like to go hunting and fishing. I take my little brothers fishing in Pine Creek," he said.
The sophomore vo-tech students were at Tri-Valley High School on January 17 for their last full day, before starting their vo-tech classes on January 18 for their second semester. Most of the students who assisted were in a vo-tech curriculum, while a few other sophomores who helped were enrolled in a general education curriculum and will remain at the high school in Hegins for the rest of the 2012-13 school year.
Sophomores joining Morgan, Glosek and Fosmire were Jordan Masser, Brett Hoke, Dominick Carado, Cole Smeltz, Kevin Bixler and Allen Adams. A few students who didn't have a study hall during fifth period received permission from their teachers to aid in the conservation effort, as long as they had their classroom work completed.
"I like being active and it's a good group of guys doing this," said Smeltz, 15, of Hegins. "I like getting dirty," he said, noting he enjoyed when the group removed old tires from the environmental site.
Meanwhile, Carado also jumped at the opportunity to be outdoors, while giving up his study hall. "I thought it's for a good cause and I'm with a lot of my friends," said Carado, 15, of Spring Glen.
The sophomores' efforts haven't gone unnoticed.
"They are the kind of group where you can explain the problem or task, show them the materials and explain the limitations, and then just step aside and watch the magic happen," Ulicny said.
Work the sophomores accomplished included:
- picking up litter at the environmental site.
- clearing tires and other debris from the environmental site stream.
- organizing a tire removal day on Saturday, Dec. 15 to remove the tires which were too large to move without machinery.
- marking and clearing overgrown hiking trails (the Harold and Esther Jones trails).
- recycling materials throughout the school.
- managing a new "Trout in the Classroom" tank.
Students removed decades old tires dumped on the environmental site property which were used as former playground equipment at the Hegins-Hubley and Mahantango elementary schools 20 years ago. The tires will be picked up by Mahantango Recyclers, where they will be recycled and shredded into mulch. For more information, visit http://www.mahantango.com.
As secretary of a local watershed group, Sally Bair, of Hegins, became aware of the work the students were completing with Ulicny's guidance. She aided in the tire removal process.
Because some of the tires were so huge, Bair's farm equipment would not have been powerful enough to handle the job, so her brother, Dave Bair, contacted a fellow farmer, Alvin Wetzel, who brought heavier equipment and proceeded to do the heavy lifting, she said.
Wetzel had also indicated he would be willing to help get the tires on the truck that comes to pick them up.
"I'm hoping that the boys will continue their interest in caring for the environmental center now and as they grow up if they stay in the valley. Their work has been stellar and 'Mrs. U' has been over the top on her generosity of time to make it all happen," said Bair.
Glosek is looking into making the environmental site trails handicapped accessible. The volunteers are looking for funding and to work on this project for the spring of 2014, according to Ulicny.
Within the school, the sophomores also took charge of recycling paper, cardboard, cans and bottles for the entire school. Ulicny used to have a Recycling Club, but she took on another club and had no room for recycling in her schedule.
"So they took it upon themselves to keep it going, and wound up recycling more than what the Recycling Club was formerly set up to do," said Ulicny.
Within Ulicny's classroom, Morgan was essential at designing, setting up, monitoring, and doing care and maintenance for the "Trout in the Classroom" tank. This is the first year that Tri-Valley was sponsored by Schuylkill Trout Unlimited and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission to raise brook trout eggs to fingerlings, which will be released into the environmental site's section of Pine Creek. The school may also be receiving some hatchlings from Pine Grove.
Morgan recently assisted with the transfer of the hatchlings from their 55-gallon tank to a larger 100-gallon tank, while making sure the water in the new enclosure was an ideal 58-degrees.
Ulicny is currently seeking funds for the purchase of new hip boots for use in releasing the trout in the spring. Donations of $5 or more can be made through the www.donorschoose.org web site (keyword "trout") or visit http://www.donorschoose.org/project/help-support-our-current-trout-in-the-cl/889769/ for more information. She expects two trout releases, one with seventh-graders, and one with juniors and seniors who work with first-grade partners at the environmental site.