Students Swap Swimsuits for Shovels This Spring Break

Students Swap Swimsuits for Shovels This Spring Break

During last year's Spring Break, UCF students learned about preservation while cleaning the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge in Vero Beach.

A group of 140 University of Central Florida Knights will volunteer during next week’s Spring Break in Guatemala and communities across America, from Key West to California, with UCF’s Alternative Break Program.

Part of Volunteer UCF, the Alternative Break Program offers volunteer opportunities and trips for students throughout the year to take part in service projects in different communities and learn about social issues.

Each group includes eight student participants, a faculty advisor and a student site leader.

“I have participated in four trips and am leading the Teach for America trip to Mississippi this Spring Break,” said Brittney Osterhoudt, student director of the Alternative Break Program. “Each trip is a new experience that is truly life-altering.”

“I gain more awareness each time and learn something new about myself. These trips truly change lives—those in the communities served and the volunteers. One thing that amazes me is every time I serve, I gain much more than I give, which I think everyone who attends a trip would agree with.”

This Spring Break, the Alternative Break Program offers 14 different trips in eight states and Guatemala.

Some of these trips include:

  • Students volunteering on Catalina Island in California will perform tasks such as planting native species, removing invasives and building exclosures to protect endangered habitats. Catalina Island is 22 miles long and home to plant, animal and insect species found nowhere else in the world.
  • In Snellville, Ga., students will volunteer at Parkwood Farms, a therapy center that helps people with special needs including autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, emotional-behavioral problems and learning disabilities through therapeutic horseback riding and equine-assisted services.
  • Students in Guatemala will work with orphanages to provide attention to disadvantaged and disabled children through activities, playing, assisting with school work, and teaching hygiene. Volunteers will live with a host family for the week to become better acquainted with the country’s culture.
  • A team of volunteers heading to Nashville, Tenn., will volunteer for the Martha O’Bryan Center, which serves more than 6,000 individuals a year to erase the line between poverty and potential in the community. Students will teach classes of various subjects, tutor after school, coach and mentor athletic teams, and perform community activities throughout the week.

To learn more about the Alternative Break Program and future trips, visit http://osi.ucf.edu/abp/.