The American Federation of Teachers recently named Ketchikan’s Jim Poplun as an Everyday Hero, an award that recognizes his years of dedication and volunteer service.
After moving to Ketchikan from the Midwest in 2005, Pomplun quickly became active in his new community. He is a member of the board of directors for his local public radio station and serves on the Alaska State Parks Advisory Board.
On top of all that, Pomplun is a member of the Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad, which aids in search and rescue operations for people who get lost—many of them hikers in the 17 million-acre Tongass National Forest that surrounds Ketchikan. The squad conducts six to 12 rescue operations every year.
This kind of volunteerism, Pomplun said, is part of the character of Ketchikan. The town of about 15,000 residents relies on volunteers for a variety of services. “I enjoy helping shape my community,” Pomplun said, “because, in the end, the community does more to shape me than I could ever imagine.”
This is the second year of the AFT Everyday Hero awards, which are given to AFT members who go above and beyond the call of duty and make a difference every day in their workplaces or communities. This year, there were more than 350 nominees, and five semifinalists were selected for each AFT division (teachers, paraprofessionals and school-related personnel, public employees, higher education, health care and retirees). More than 5,000 people voted online to select the winners.
This year, the Everyday Heroes are being honored at divisional conferences. Pomplun, a member of the Alaska Public Employees Association’s Ketchikan Gateway Borough, Local 6137, received his award at the AFT Healthcare/Public Employees Joint Conference in Las Vegas.