The Passion Behind “Volunteering”
By Alyssa Ritterstein, DC EcoWomen Board Member
Tacy Lambiase is one of the finalists of DC EcoWomen’s 2018 Photo Contest, which captured images of the incredible environmental work our members do each day. Her photo features an activity that resonates with many women in our community – volunteering to help protect the environment.
Tacy is not new to volunteer work. In 2013, she led 15 University of Maryland, College Park undergraduates on a week-long, environmental restoration trip with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. During that time, she educated students about environmental issues through service-learning activities and projects.
For the past two years, she’s volunteered as an environmental educator with the Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS)’s Saturday Environmental Academy (SEA). She develops lesson plans and chaperones weekly field trips for sixth, seventh and eighth grade students interested in environmental issues.
Tacy’s photo contest picture comes from one of her trips this past spring, when she participated in a tree planting along the Anacostia River near Bladensburg, Maryland. Her photo follows one of her young SEA students planting a native sapling to stabilize the banks of the river.
We recently chatted with Tacy to hear more about the photo and the passion behind her work.
DC EcoWomen: Congratulations on being a finalist for this year’s photo contest! Let’s talk about the photo you submitted. What’s its backstory?
Tacy Lambiase: We were planting native tree species to help restore a portion of the riverbank along the Anacostia that was experiencing erosion (and a large build-up of trash). For some of the students, this was the first time they had ever planted a tree. How awesome is that?! I love that the SEA program facilitates meaningful experiences like this for students from underserved communities.
DCEW: I see that you have a lot of experience volunteering and working in the environmental field. Can you tell us why you are passionate about this area and how you got to where you are today? For instance, how did you get involved with AWS?
TL: I became passionate about sustainability and volunteering as an undergraduate at the University of Maryland. Participating in the Alternative Breaks Program was a game-changer because I had the opportunity to see environmental protection in action. It wasn’t a theoretical exercise, it was an experience involving hands-on, direct service to my own community, the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Ultimately, that experience inspired me to minor in Sustainability Studies and pursue sustainability-related job opportunities after graduation. It also led me to seek out volunteer positions with AWS.
DCEW: Let’s switch gears and talk about the future. Where do you envision your environmental work taking you in the future?
TL: I currently work on internal communications and employee engagement initiatives for the Urban Institute. I’d love to help foster a culture of sustainability within the organization. I’ve actually be given the opportunity to form a Sustainability Task Force with staff to kick-start conversations around: “How might we create a more efficient, healthy, and sustainable workplace? How can we become better neighbors and environmental stewards of our own community?” So, I’m excited to see how that evolves. And I will definitely keep volunteering with local environmental organizations in my free time.
DCEW: Is there any advice that you’d like to give folks interested in next year’s contest?
TL: Don’t be afraid to share your story! Whether you take care of your own backyard garden, volunteer with an environmental organization, or spend time in nature, your story about connecting with the environment is important. And a good photo can help your story resonate with others.
Tacy Lambiase is a volunteer environmental educator at the Saturday Environmental Academy (SEA), a program of the Anacostia Watershed Society. She also works as an Internal Communications Specialist at The Urban Institute, a nonprofit conducting research to expand opportunities for all, reduce hardship among the most vulnerable, and strengthen the effectiveness of the public sector.