Alternative Break Club provides unique community service trips over spring break

Nevada students have opportunity to gain volunteer experience in Point Reyes and rural Nevada

3/15/2012 - By: Megan Akers
Alternative Spring Break Members of the University of Nevada, Reno’s Honors Program in the field last year during their “alternative spring break” where seven Nevada students and other Friends of Nevada Wilderness volunteers did maintenance and restoration work at the Desert National Wildlife Refuge in southern Nevada. This year, two alternative breaks are planned.

The University of Nevada, Reno’s Alternative Break Club has planned two community service trips, one to Point Reyes, Calif. and one to rural Nevada, for undergraduate students during the school’s spring break, March 17-24. Lyndsey Bohall, a sophomore at the University, is the founder and primary student leader of the club.

Bohall began the club on campus last year after working with Nevada Volunteers over the summer as an AmeriCorps volunteer. Now in its second year on campus, Bohall hopes that the expansion of club trips will help motivate more students on campus to take an active role in participating in community service.

“It’s a good way for students to get that first initial taste of service and have fun at the same time,” Bohall said. “A lot of students don’t have time to volunteer during the year, so I figured spring break would be a good time for them to get involved.”

Bohall went on last year’s service trip to southern Nevada, where students worked with Friends of Nevada Wilderness and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help restore the natural beauty of Nevada. Students on the trip camped in the desert and experienced firsthand the amount of time and labor it takes to keep Nevada’s wild lands pristine.

“We really put last year’s trip together last-minute,” Bohall said. “It was kind of a test-drive to see if the club would work out, and we had about eight students who went, which was pretty exciting.”

With the success of last year’s volunteer trip, the club has decided to create an additional trip this year to Point Reyes and San Francisco, Calif. Students going on the trip will have the opportunity to engage in valuable volunteer efforts in an ecologically diverse area. The Point Reyes trip, known as the Honors Expedition, is for the University’s Honors Program students only and has been coordinated by Chris LaCasse, an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer who was placed in the Honors Program on campus for the year.

“The University Honors Program places a great deal of emphasis upon service-learning initiatives and volunteerism in general,” LaCasse said. “This pilot program will help in strengthening the bonds between campus and community, and we hope to make the Honors Expedition a recurring event annually.” 

The students will be removing invasive ice plant next to the Point Reyes Lighthouse, working on sand dune restoration on the beaches of Abbott’s Lagoon and attending an educational foray in the Exploratorium in San Francisco.

The trip will provide a way for students to gain real-life perspectives on the majors of their choice by doing hands-on volunteer work with field experts.

“Students will be working alongside park biological technicians who will be explaining the diverse flora and fauna to be seen, as well as giving guided hikes in different areas throughout the park,” LaCasse said.

Bohall has high aspirations that the volunteer trips will mirror the club’s success of last year. With approximately double the amount of students signed up for this year’s trips compared to last year, the Alternative Break Club hopes to continue to widen its community service outreach in the future.


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