By Alex Herbst ’15
“It takes a very special group of students to make the decision to spend their spring break laboring away at a park,” said Sean Dixon, chief ranger at Belle Isle State Park in Lancaster, Virginia, after spending seven days with nine hard-working students from Plymouth State University for Alternative Spring Break (ASB).
What is ASB? It’s a service-oriented program held during Spring Break that allows for students to travel to different parts of the country and volunteer in local communities. As sophomore student Hannah Smith describes, “I’m always looking for an opportunity to travel and see other parts of the country. With ASB you get to do that in a constructive and meaningful way with other like-minded people.”
This year, there were three ASB trips. One student group went to Memphis, Tennessee, to work with a local animal shelter and childcare center. A second group went to Alabama to work with Habitat for Humanity. Finally, a third group (myself included) traveled to Virginia, and worked throughout the week in Belle Isle State Park.
Nine of us climbed into a van and made the thirteen-hour drive to the state park. The drive down to Virginia was made much more interesting by the ever-changing weather along the way. From snow to cold to rain to warm, we experienced a little bit of everything on our drive.
Our main project was to work with park managers to build a sixty-foot-long bridge over a swampy area that would complete a new trail. We dove right into the work and completed the project in only two days! After that, we installed new signposts throughout the park, and put together Easter giveaways for children set to visit for an Easter egg hunt.
Of course, it wasn’t all work and no play while we were in Virginia. We enjoyed each other’s company beyond work hours, sitting by the campfire, chatting away, taking pictures, and playing card games.
We had a number of new experiences while in Virginia. We visited a true Southern barbecue for dinner and had delicious pulled chicken and ribs. Also, we tried geocaching, searching for hidden objects using a GPS. We found all kinds of hidden objects, awesome views of the river, and even a bald eagle’s nest!
“The group that we had this year from Plymouth University was great. Everyone was eager to jump in and get their ‘feet wet’ with the project. They were quick to learn and did a fantastic job,” said Ranger Dixon. Alternative Spring Break is something I look forward to every year here at PSU, and this year did not disappoint. I would highly recommend other students consider participating in ASB. It is a great way to have fun, make friends, and volunteer to make a difference.
Did you participate in Alternative Spring Break? Share your stories and photos with us at plymouth.edu/alumni/class-notes/alumni-experiences.
For more information about Alternative Spring Break, contact Linda Corriveau in the Community Service Center.