Twenty-two Salt Lake Community College students did something quite different for their spring break…they gave back to the environment. These students took part in the Alternative Spring Break program through the Thayne Center for Service and Learning. Ten students along with adviser Jon Glenn went to Seattle, Washington and 11 students with three advisers, headed by Steven Lewis journeyed to Kanab, Utah.
“I decided to go on an Alternative Spring Break because I wanted to make a difference in the world if only for a week,” said student Kelsey Green who took part in the Seattle trip. “I learned how invasive blackberry bushes are in Washington; which taught me that if you let things creep in and not take care of them the right away, they will take over until there is nothing left, both physically and mentally.”
While in Seattle the students stayed in the Green Tortoise Hostel. Students took part in many activities, including; planting native plants in an area cleared of non-native plants, working in a nursery, and moving and repotting plants that will be used in restoration work. They toured the largest composting facility in the United States. They also went with a marine biologist to observe and learn about the rich life in the Puget Sound, according to Glenn.
“We had six weekly meetings leading up to the trip. Thank heaven most everything was already in place thanks to Linnie Spor, Michael Whitney, Whitney Rose, and others from the Thayne Center Service Council who planned the Seattle trip last year,” said student Charity Jessop, “Our group did not have to worry about planning for food, accommodations, plane tickets, or even where we would be doing our service, as those before had come up with such a successful format the year before.”
“I learned how cooperation between business, government, citizens, environmentalists and the mining/logging industry is necessary to maintain a healthy and livable environment,” says Glenn.
As the Seattle group was planting and repotting, the group in Kanab was helping to take care of animals at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. Steven Lewis, Campus Coordinator for the Disability Resource Center started this Alternative Spring Break when he heard a coworker talking about their trip to Colorado four years ago. He wanted to have an Alternative Spring Break that students with disabilities could take part in.
“It opens up something where you are selflessly giving of yourself,” says Lewis.
At the sanctuary, students cleaned animal pens, built birdhouses, and played with the animals.
“I didn’t want to do the traditional beach and alcohol scene. I wanted to help others. I had adopted my first dog with my fiancé recently and was really affected by how much those animals need good, loving homes,” says student Meghan Kwan-Smith, ” I wish I could have adopted them all and taken them home with me, but I couldn’t. What I could do, though, was help out at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.”
The group also traveled to Zion National Park. As they hiked Angles Landing they picked up litter.
“We filled two 50-gallon trash bags with trash that we had found. None of the trash was located anywhere near the trail. We all went off trail to find the trash,” says Lewis, “Some people had never been on a hike. Everybody except for one was born in Utah, but no one had been up Angles Landing.”
Alternative Spring Break will be happening again next year. Lewis says that he is hoping to get some bigger projects done at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.
Many Students wanted to give their stories about Alternative Spring Break, and their stories can be read here.