Editor’s Note: In this Question & Answer profile, CleanScapes Project Director Elisabeth Lynch McCoy (ELM) interviewed longtime CleanScapes volunteer Don Lysle (DL), 2011 recipient of CleanScapes’ “Volunteer of the Year” Award and recipient of a 2018 Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful “Outstanding Volunteer” Award.
ELM: You live in Cumberland County, have a degree in Forestry, and you’re a veteran of the Carlisle’s National Guard. As an outdoor recreational enthusiast, characterize your favorite local destination point and what entices you here?
DL: The absolute beauty of this whole area and the wildlife. Decades ago I worked for the Department of Forest and Waters [now known as DCNR] and my friends had a hunting camp up Rattlesnake Mt. Road. Back then 4-wheel drive only got you so far! We’d end up walking the final stretch. Spending so much time walking the woods [pause], I don’t have a favorite spot – I just feel good up here and the people are so nice.
ELM: You’ve participated in so many CleanScapes events and some of the sites we take on are, well, revolting. It’s not uncommon to feel emotionally exasperated by the sights and smells, and the work can be physically demanding — not to mention muddy! Yet you have participated in so many events. After you participated in your first event, what compelled you to attend more? What encouraged or motivated you to return?
DL: Later in my career I had a desk job. The day’s goal was to move the stack from one side of the desk to the other. It wasn’t very rewarding to me. After retirement I needed to get back outside! I’ve attended over 200 community cleanup events around the state and there is always a sense of accomplishment, a common purpose, and you’re surrounded by people who share a common interest in nature. But CleanScapes events are unique. They’re my favorite because the people who show up are so diverse, yet they work together effortlessly. It’s so uplifting.
ELM: Every cleanup site is unique. Which event was the most personally rewarding and what made the experience so memorable?
DL: One of the West Branch river cleanups. Coming up the bank was a Lock Haven University student. She had a car tire in each arm and a bicycle tire around her neck! That type of enthusiast teamwork is contagious and when you watch those students, their drive and sense of community you really have no concern about the future of our country.
ELM: Used diapers, shingles, toilets, carpeting, tires …we’ve removed it all. But sometimes a “treasure” is unearthed or wildlife stream into view. Describe the most unforgettable item/s you found or witnessed.
DL: All the unique and old glass bottles that have survived. Finding items from my youth, old milk and soda bottles, really stirs up some childhood memories. Back then they were just reusable containers until they cracked. Today some of them are really collectable! I guess this answer is giving away my age!
ELM: How has your CleanScapes’s experience affected or changed your community viewpoint or possibly your personal connection to this area?
DL: I feel as though I’ve come full circle. I once worked at World’s End State Park and hunted up here. Now I come back to give back – to help keep this area beautiful.
Inspired by Don’s work?
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