Spring break alternative lets students give back

Ben Deering / Sun Star Reporter
March 15, 2011

Traditionally, Spring Break is a time to relax and take a vacation, getting away from the cold of the 49th state. For more adventurous students, UAF’s Leadership Involvement & Volunteer Experience (LIVE) program offers, “a chance to give back, a chance to do good,” said Cara Hollingsworth, Director of the LIVE program.

Mountain biking on the Moab Brands Bike Trails system north of Moab, Utah. Feb, 21, 2011. Flickr: creative commons. Trailsource.com.

This chance is the Alternative Spring Break, a program designed to give student volunteers the chance to work on various environmental projects. The program is currently in its sixth year. Each year, Hollingsworth said, is focused on a different environmental concern. In previous years, Alternative Spring Break has taken students to Muir Woods, Calif., New Orleans, Washington, D.C., El Salvador and Arctic Village, Alaska. This year, the program is going to Moab, Utah to work with the Plateau Restoration Project, a trip focused on conservation and resource management.

This gives the students involved a few different opportunities. Volunteer projects look good on a resume in an increasingly competitive job market. Previous attendees of the program have said that the program helped with “a lot of personal growth,” said Ashton Compton, the University of Alaska Student Regent. In addition, the program “provides a chance to travel,” Hollingsworth said.

One of the hurdles for students wanting to attend Alternative Spring Break is the cost.

“We try to subsidize as much as possible with fundraising,” Kelley Ryan, the site leader, said. The cost to attend would normally be $1,700 for each person. Thanks to aggressive fundraising, including both a spaghetti feed and nacho sales, that cost has been reduced down to $475 per participant.

“It’s a commitment to our community work, but it’s really a commitment to yourself,” Ryan said.

“[The program] exposes you to a new community, exposes you to issues you may not have been aware. And you also get to meet cool people,” Hollingsworth said.


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