Commitment to the Environment

Caring for the Earth, and environment is a vital commitment for United Friends School. George Fox, Margaret Fell, and the other 17th century Quaker founders urged people to walk gently over the earth. The Quaker Stewardship & Care for the Earth testimony connects us as integral parts of all creation and makes us responsible for its protection and careful use. We integrate environmental topics into our science and citizenship studies curricula and advocate for clean air and water as part of our social action work. We are mindful of reducing our waste and encourage our students to think about the environment in their everyday lives. As a school, we strive to reduce the amount of paper we use, recycle what we can, and look for other opportunities to encourage healthy and sustainable practices.

Outdoor Education

Adoption of Licking Run Creek / Quakertown Anti-Pollution Ordinance

Since United Friends School first opened its doors in 1983, students have frequently visited the Quakertown Memorial Park and the Licking Run Creek that runs along it, benefiting from nature and using the creek as a living laboratory. The creek is home to small aquatic life and organisms and, like virtually all waterways in the area, has suffered from the introduction of trash and yard waste as well as other forms of pollution.

UFS adopted the stream and began studying its health. We won a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, which funded stream monitoring equipment and teaching aids like a classroom stream flow table. Our Middle School students learned how to use the new equipment to properly record data about the plants and organisms that rely on Licking Run Creek for sustenance and that contribute to Quakertown biodiversity. They also learned that a fully healthy creek would not be dealing with trash and yard waste, take dissolved oxygen out of the water and add sediment to the water that can clog up the gills of aquatic animals. Animals with gills depend on dissolved oxygen in order to survive.

Our students also learned how to advocate for our creek’s health. Our Middle School students presented a proposal to protect the Licking Run Creek to the Quakertown Borough Council. On March 2, 2011, the Council Ordained and Enacted Ordinance 1177, based on the Ordinance Proposal Presented by United Friends School Students. This ordinance was enacted to prevent yard waste or any other object from being placed in the creek. Stream monitoring and clean-ups have continued to take place periodically since the Ordnance was passed.

Stream Monitoring

We significantly expanded our student-led Licking Creek Run project at the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year. The Second/Third Grade classrooms (Fox and Paul) have started weekly visits to the creek, where they are taught by their UFS teachers and Master Watershed Steward volunteers. Students are once again gathering data to measure the health of Licking Run Creek. They plan to post their findings on citizen science sites that crowd source vital information about our area watershed. We have partnered with the Quakertown Parks and Recreation Department, the Bucks County Conservation District, the Heritage Conservancy, and Growing Ambler Greener to help us develop an outdoor education and community center at the Licking Run Creek. We would like to extend our efforts to include other communities besides our immediate neighborhood, and look forward to building on our initial adoption to create an invaluable educational and community resource.

Gardening and Composting Program

Whenever possible we encourage students to utilize the compost area to reduce the amount of waste that would otherwise go to a landfill. We take pride in promoting a responsible and environmentally friendly option for dealing with waste. As the nutrient-rich soil is produced it feeds our raised garden beds that our classrooms have the opportunity to visit and experiment growing their own fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs. Parents and guardians volunteer to cultivate the garden and compost, especially over the summer months.