Spring 2017 — When spring break came around this year, Linda Rodriguez set her sights on service. Instead of going on vacation or visiting home, Rodriquez spent her week off from schoolwork in Ashland, Oregon, as part of the Center for Civic Engagement's Alternative Break program.
“I’ve heard about Alternative Break since I was a freshman,” Rodriguez said. “I thought it would be a great way to do something different for a change than just sitting around my house for a whole week.”
Rodriguez focused on environmental conservation, restoration and justice during her Alt Break trip to Ashland, Oregon.
As noted in its mission statement, the Alternative Break program focuses on creating transformative, experiential learning experiences for students in collaboration with different communities. Students are immersed in community environments where they are asked to willingly engage in challenging reflections and conversations, examine their beliefs and confront difficult issues. The Alt Break program values place-based education with a focus on short-term relief in addition to long-term sustainable social change.
The theme of Rodriguez’s trip was environmental conservation, restoration and justice. While in Ashland, her group worked with community partners that reflected this theme. At Willow Witt Ranch, they covered an exposed pipe with bark to keep it from eroding. At Coyote Trails School of Nature, they picked weeds and mulched around small trees to improve their survival. And at Lomakatsi Restoration Project, they dug up a patch of weeds so that flowers could be planted for a butterfly garden, as well as fed growing trees in the Lomakatsi nursery.
For Rodriguez, meeting and working with different people was a highlight of the experience — that and seeing how her Alt Break group could make a big difference.
“A lot of the partners work alone, or get very little help, so the work we helped with could have taken them weeks,” Rodriguez said. “But having us there — it only took all of us a day. And even if we thought the tasks were small or simple, in the long run they will help make a difference to the partners, community and environment.”