PEEC Featured Volunteer
Alex Zubelewicz may be new to the Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC), but he’s certainly not new to volunteering. He loves the outdoors, and he’s applied that passion to volunteering not only for PEEC, but for other organizations in New Mexico and around the Southwest. We sat down with Alex to learn more about him, his contributions to the community, and some exciting projects he has coming up.
PEEC: You’re new to volunteering at PEEC. How did you get involved?
A.Z.: I started working with the Santa Fe National Forest doing trail work, and I thought it was pretty cool. Unfortunately, during the winter and early spring, everything stops because the ground is frozen, so I wanted to start volunteering elsewhere. I liked the idea of finding an organization in Los Alamos, because it’s more convenient for me. I looked on VolunteerMatch.com and I saw that PEEC was looking for a volunteer to do data management. I sent Linda [Boncella] an email saying I was interested and the next thing I knew, I was signed on to volunteer at PEEC. Overall my experience with PEEC has been great so far.
PEEC: Will you continue to do work for the Santa Fe National Forest? Where else do you volunteer?
A.Z.: As spring comes along, there will be more trail work, so yes. I am also signed on to volunteer with Wilderness Volunteers in late April and early May. I’ll be doing a weeklong project in Utah, where we will camp out and repair bridges and trails. We’ll be hiking daily, and working every day except one free day on Wednesday. Most of the participants are from California, Arizona and other parts of the U.S. There’s even one person coming from Germany. I’m looking forward to it because I won’t know anyone before I go, but we’ve been emailing back and forth. After the trip, I’m planning to go to Las Vegas with some of the other volunteers. I also volunteer at the Los Alamos Little Theater. I just finished up the publicity for “Nana’s Naughty Knickers.” Our first show was on New Year’s Eve, and it was practically sold out! I worked on it for about an hour a day, doing some kind of advertisement or publicity. It was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun.
PEEC: What drives you to volunteer?
A.Z.: It is a great way for me to fill up my time. Los Alamos as a community is small, and I’m trying to meet more people because I feel that sometimes I need to get out more. It’s an everyday adventure – you never know who you’re going to meet.
PEEC: Where do you work for your day job?
A.Z.: I work at UNM-Los Alamos as the special events and campus safety coordinator. I am in charge of planning both the internal and external events held there. Working at an institution like UNM-LA is a fabulous opportunity, because I have the chance to meet all types of people everyday – faculty, students and visitors. As a community-based college, UNM-LA holds a lot of external events free of charge for the community, like tutoring for high school students and support groups for adults and teens. It’s a great resource for our community, which I think some people may not realize.
PEEC: Are you excited for the new Nature Center?
A.Z.: Yes! It’s going to be fabulous because it will overlook the canyon and be closer to town. The building will be gorgeous, and I think it will be a great place for kids, teens and young adults to hang out. I really think we need more community outreach and activities for teens.
PEEC: Tell us more about yourself.
A.Z.: I graduated from Los Alamos High School, and I enjoy living here because I really love the outdoors. I could ride the bus to work every day, but instead I like walking to work from where I live downtown so that I can be outside. I love the outdoor setting here – especially the forest and hiking. I’m always looking for new places to go hiking. My interests, besides hiking, include reading books, going to the movies, camping and traveling.
PEEC: So you like to travel. What was the best trip you ever took?
A.Z.: When I was in the second grade, I visited my family back in Poland. That was an adventure because it was a different culture and language entirely. I didn’t speak a lot of Polish, so it was hard to communicate. It was a culture shock, but in a good way. Things tasted differently, they used different money, etc. It was an experience. Nowadays I routinely vacation to California, Florida and Texas to visit family.
PEEC:What’s something we don’t know about you?
A.Z.: Well, I am an identical twin. Sometimes I run into my brother’s friends and they think I’m him, and vice versa. For all that we have in common though, we still have different interests and friends.