Protecting the Ecosystem Along Pratt Whitney Road Turns into Labor of Love for West Palm Beach Employees

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Matthew Tracy drives the same stretch of Pratt Whitney Road each day. The road passes through Florida's wetlands and woodlands, which is home to a multitude of sensitive wildlife species, including birds, fish, frogs, deer, and rare and endangered plants.

"When I joined Pratt & Whitney West Palm Beach in 2013, what should have been a pleasant drive to and from work was in actuality quite depressing," said Tracy, a test engineer with Systems Engineering and Validation. "Unsightly litter was scattered all along both sides of the road. I love the outdoors, so it was especially upsetting to me to see this otherwise beautiful scenic area lined with trash and debris that is harmful to plants and wildlife.

"I also was unhappy to see a road, which bears our company's name, look so aesthetically displeasing," said Tracy who enjoys fishing, boating and diving. "I felt compelled to come up with a sustainable solution."

Tracy enlisted the help of the Employee Volunteer Organization at the West Palm Beach site. He asked the Employee Volunteer Organization to consider adopting a 3 mile section of Pratt Whitney Road through Palm Beach County's Adopt-a-Road Program.

"It was a perfect match," said Employee Volunteer Organization chair Brenda Maddox. "The Employee Volunteer Organization focuses on sponsoring and supporting projects that enrich our communities and provide employees with opportunities to give back." Maddox is senior project manager in Facilities Engineering at Pratt & Whitney West Palm Beach.

"Since the Employee Volunteer Organization adopted Pratt Whitney Road in 2013, the number of participants at the quarterly cleanup events has nearly tripled," Maddox said. "The volunteers represent Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky, UTC Building & Industrial Systems, Aerojet Rocketdyne and numerous campus contractors all who have offices on the West Palm Beach site. Pratt & Whitney's fire department also is on hand at the cleanup events to ensure everyone's safety."

"It's a labor of love," Tracy said. "By giving up just a few hours of their time, volunteers are helping to protect the environment and make the drive to and from work more pleasant for employees and others who use Pratt Whitney Road.

"To date, we have filled more than 90 large trash bags totaling more than one half ton of litter," Tracy said. "Some of the things we have found lying on the side of the road, include cassettes, truck tires and car bumpers, cardboard boxes, plastic and glass bottles, and aluminum cans."

Palm Beach County initiated the Adopt-a-Road program to encourage volunteers to help keep highways free from litter. The county provides litter bags, protective gloves, safety vests and safety training as well as makes arrangements to discard filled bags. It also posted an Adopt-a-Road sign on either end of the adopted section of road recognizing Pratt & Whitney.

"I am proud to work for a company that values giving back to the community and supports volunteerism," Tracy said. "And, I am grateful to work with people who take the time to care and support community endeavors."

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