There are four major projects that the NPS anticipates working on in the spring of 2014 that encompass watering plants, removing restoration materials, outplanting, and eradicating invasive species. We'll be dividing our time between these projects based on the current needs of the NPS, and we may also do some trail maintenance. While in Joshua Tree we’ll be hiking a lot, making a particular point to take a sunrise hike up Ryan Mountain and go through the infamous Chasm (if we can find it!). Other afternoons we'll make a point of driving out to Keys View where supposedly you can see all the way to Mexico on a clear day, and visiting the old mines. There will be plenty of campfires with s’mores included too! Once we make our way to L.A., we plan to visit many of the typical touristy locations like Venice Beach, Watts Tower, and Sunset Strip along with a visit to the famous L.A. Farmer’s Market Saturday morning before heading to the airport.Learn more about Joshua Tree, CA
Proyecto Azteca builds community homes at a work site before transporting them to the colonias, the predominantly Hispanic subsidized neighborhoods in Texas. When building homes on-site, the participants work together doing a variety of tasks including staining, sealing, sanding, varnishing, caulking, spackling, gardening, laying tiles, painting, installing insulation, and nailing. Participants also have the opportunity to plan and throw a party for kids in a colonia—an experience that is enlightening and fun. In our off time, we will do various activities to explore and learn about all the unique characteristics of an energetic and multicultural border town. We visit St. Peter’s Basilica, wildlife refuges, clubs with live salsa dancing, restaurants with amazing authentic Mexican food, and an old-school drive-in theater. We will also be preparing our own meals (using the grill whenever possible) using fresh meat and vegetables from local markets.Learn more about San Juan, TX
We will be working mainly in assisting the rangers in preserving the historic and natural resources of the park. This might include the removal of invasive species, repairing broken fences, trail maintenance, and other manual labors that would help assist others in accessing this historic site. We will also have a chance to tour the historic fort by one of the rangers! We will be rewarded throughout the week for our hard work. Every day after working in the park, we plan to participate in activities at the actual fort or on the island. Some of these activities include hiking in the park, kayaking on Tybee Island, lounging by the beach, and exploring the many lighthouses in this region. We promise lots of s’mores and time by the campfire! We will spend all of Friday exploring the historic downtown Savannah. Some ideas include: visiting the many museums, exploring the parks and squares, riding on the free ferry, perusing through the historic streets filled with beautiful antebellum houses, and picnicking by the Savannah River.Learn more about Fort Pulaski, GA
Asheville Greenworks, an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, is an organization focused on providing a clean, green community. Although we won’t know our exact task until a few weeks before, we will be doing environmental work throughout the city with a primary focus on the French Broad River. This could involve elm bulb planting along the river, river clean-up, tree planting, preservation acts or all of the above! Regardless of the exact task, it will be fun, rewarding and muddy work! Just bring a good work ethic, rubber boots and positive attitude! In our down time we will have the opportunity to explore downtown Asheville and the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. Make sure to bring your hiking shoes because we will be enjoying the view from some of the highest ridge-lines on the east coast in the Pisgah National Forest. We also hope to go ziplining in the wonderful mountains! We will be eating delicious, organic Asheville specialities and dominating Asheville’s trivia scene (actually though, we won twice last trip).Learn more about Asheville, NC
We will be working with the National Park Service in either Canyonlands or Arches on whichever projects they need assistance with. This may involve removal of invasive plant species, trail restoration, or restoration of native plant species. Trail restoration will be particularly beneficial to the ecosystems found in this region, because some of the soil is actually alive, being composed of lichens, bacteria, and other small organisms. We likely will not begin our work with the Park Service until Monday, March 10. That will give us an entire day on Sunday, March 9 to explore whichever park we will not be working in for the week (probably Canyonlands), driving around and hiking to see some of the more notable sites in the Island in the Sky area of the park. We will be taking a star tour in Canyonlands one night and will do a sunrise hike to the Delicate Arch one morning. The last night of the trip, we will stay at a hotel in Salt Lake City and explore the city. Other trip awesomeness includes making smores every night (we will be pros of the marshmallow roast by the end of the trip!), cooking over the campfire, playing Apples to Apples, and getting to know each other.Learn more about Moab, UT
Our first partner organization addresses the environmental issues affecting the Pensacola Bay Area. Working with Project Greenshores, just outside of downtown Pensacola, our service will consist of any number of tasks to preserve, restore, and enhance the local coastal ecosystems. Possible projects include planting and cultivating saltmarsh and seagrass and collecting and distributing oyster shells to create reefs. Habitat for Humanity is dedicated to constructing homes for low-income families. We will be working alongside other college students in a “Collegiate Challenge” and future homeowners to help construct these houses. Our work may include anything from cutting and preparing boards to framing to painting to landscaping. The Waterfront Rescue Mission’s Pensacola Men’s Shelter is a men’s homeless shelter that provides food and shelter for 130-150 men per evening. Twice during the week, we will cook dinner at the Mission’s facility for all of the residents. Our recreational activities will focus on the Pensacola waterfront, including the wildlife, beaches, and gems that a port city offers. We will spend time on the beach, at the nearby state parks, or exploring the town. Depending on participants’ interests, we may also visit the Naval Aviation Museum, the Pensacola Lighthouse, the Wildlife Reserve, or the Veterans’ Memorial.Learn more about Pensacola, FL
Road tripping between Charlottesville, Virginia Beach, D.C., and Harpers Ferry affords us the opportunity to experience four unique regions of our beautiful state. In Charlottesville, we will take advantage of one of many fantastic hiking opportunities with a trek up Dobie Mountain, and venture to a non-Corner restaurant that uses local produce after our day at the Local Food Hub. We will hopefully have some time to kick back in the sand at Virginia Beach after contributing to the effort to maintain the shoreline. There are countless museums and landmarks to explore in D.C., so we’ll decide as a group what sites we most want to see. More hiking awaits in beautiful, historic Harpers Ferry before we return to Charlottesville! Participants should be prepared for a variety of service! Farming, bay restoration, and tutoring will all be included! Specific service activities at the Local Food Hub and Save the Bay may change depending on weather conditions and the needs of the the organization when we arrive.Learn more about Virginia Road Trip
We will be assisting John Torrence and other Park Rangers in Congaree National Park. There will be a variety of activities which may include trail work, back country bridge work, non-native plant removal, or any other jobs the Park Rangers need help with in the spring. John will keep us busy working but we’ll be having fun all the while! The work we do on the trails and bridges will bring visible benefits to future visitors to the Park! The work with non-native plant removal will allow native species to flourish! In our free time, we're planning on doing a lot of recreational hiking, depending on how much hiking we have already done during daily work. Hiking ideas include Big Tree Hike, Weston Lake Wilderness Hike, and a guided Owl Prowl night hike. We also plan on going on a canoe tour Tuesday afternoon to explore the Congaree River either with Park Rangers or simply by ourselves. On Friday, we will drive to Charleston for the day. here are plenty of options on Johns Island and in downtown Charleston. We can explore the streets of Charleston, observe the historical architecture and beautiful waterfront, eat some southern cuisine, go to the beach, visit battery park, adventure through old plantations, or visit the famous Angel Oak Tree, estimated to be over 1500 years old! Also, if we get lucky, we’ll be able to enjoy an ice cream cone from the elusive Roots Ice Cream Truck! And did we mention that we dedicate a part of each night to reflections around the campfire while roasting s’mores?!Learn more about Congaree, SC
We will be performing maintenance on the trails within the park. This may include clearing impassable trails, doing routine trail clean-up, making steep portions of trail easier to navigate, or dealing with water run-off. While it does require some degree of manual labor, it’s a great way to see the park! Since Point Reyes receives millions of visitors each year, trail maintenance is key to keeping the park up and running. We are going to spend most of our recreation time taking advantage of the miles of beautiful hiking trails in the park! We will also explore the lighthouse, hopefully see some WHALES, and have lots of beach bonfires. On the last full day, we will drive to San Francisco and spend the day exploring the city.Learn more about Point Reyes, CA
We will be working with Bill Holman, the PATC district manager of the Mutton Hollow trails, and we will either help him maintain his current trails or possibly construct new trails. Our help is needed to both protect the surrounding hillsides and help the trails survive their everyday use by hikers and mountain bikers. Possible trail work tasks could include building water bars to control runoff, constructing staircases, clearing underbrush, laying gravel, and working with fun tools such as pulaskis. Ever chop down a tree or wrestle a giant root out of the ground with your bare hands? You probably will after this trip.Learn more about Shenandoah, VA
We will be working with Portland Parks and Recreation, which cares for over 10,000 acres of parks and natural areas within the city as well as providing recreational facilities and educational programs for Portland residents. Our mornings and afternoons will be filled with service work that will consist of trail maintenance, invasive plant removal, amphibian monitoring and ecosystem management, trash removal, and forest conservation in just a few of Portland’s many parks. Service will consist of light manual labor, which will be both tiring and rewarding. After our service work each day, we will have plenty of chances to explore the city! Portland is a great city to walk around in, and there are many interesting places to see and visit. Some planned recreation activities include a city bike tour, hiking through Forest Park, canoeing on the Columbia River Gorge, attending a slam poetry session, and a visit to the world famous Voodoo Donuts. Portland offers so many options for outdoor activities that we can guarantee you will not be bored!Learn more about Portland, OR
While at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, we will be working with the National Park Service in assisting with various environmental conservation projects that are needed at the time. Past projects with the National Park Service have involved trail maintenance, trash pick-up, construction and other manual labor activities. This year we will be most likely treating and removing trees from developed recreational areas that potentially risk the property/visitors or trees that show clearly discernible defects indicating a diseased condition. In our off time, we will be exploring the wonders of Grand Canyon National Park! Hiking will be our main event(s), possible trails include the South Kalibab or Rim trail, both are considered to have the best views in the park. If hiking isn’t quite up your alley, we are also looking into renting bikes and spending a day cycling the rim trail. Evenings at the ranger station will include scintillating games of catchphrase, quality stargazing, and most importantly s’mores.Learn more about Grand Canyon, AZ
Since we will primarily be working on community development, all our service sites are within walking distance of our lodging. We are looking for participants with an open mind, good attitude, and excitement for trying new things. While the primary language spoken in Arutam is Spanish, no language skills are required. Staying on the rainforest reservation is a great way to learn about a new culture and experience the beauty of the Amazon rainforest.Learn more about Ecuador
Be ready for anything! We could be pulling weeds, painting, or heavier trail work like pulling stumps. Last year the Mammoth Cave ASB trip spent much of their time combating alien species, such as honeysuckle and garlic mustard, that disturb that indigenous ecosystems in the park, but we will do whatever the Park Service needs when we arrive. Be ready to learn to use tools like Pulaskis and Mcleods as well as muscles in your body that you didn’t know existed. No experience with trail maintenance is necessary, but participants must be ready to work and play in the dirt and have fun doing it!Learn more about Mammoth Cave, KY
We will be working with the Youth Rebuilding New Orleans! While we won’t know the specifics about our worksite until we approach our trip date you can expect projects that include helping to build and restore homes for individuals affected by Hurricane Katrina. There is so much to be discovered and experienced in the city of New Orleans! In addition to volunteering we will have the opportunity to see and explore much of what New Orleans has to offer. We will visit the famous French Quarter, attend a jazz concert at Preservation Hall and venture to the Louisiana State Museum’s Katrina & Beyond Exhibit in order to see and understand the impact of the hurricane on the city. We’ll be getting up close and personal with the wildlife of the bayou with a swamp tour, as well as experiencing New Orleans at night with a ghost tour. Prepare yourselves to eat beignets at the famous Café du Monde and see the liveliness of Bourbon Street at night! And last but not least we will definitely be experiencing that unbelievable Cajun cuisine New Orleans is famous for! (alligator anyone?)Learn more about NOLA
We will be working with a variety of teams of park rangers in El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rainforest in the US National Forest System. Possible projects include working with the Eco Research Team helping take water samples and building habitats for the forest’s endangered species; working with the Nursery Team and helping cultivate some of the forest’s 150 fern species and 240 tree species; and working with the Parks and Recs Team maintaining hiking trails, and painting bridges. Throughout the week, we will have the opportunity to explore the vast rainforest, hike to and swim in La Mina Falls, wander through El Portal, tour the visitor’s center, and get a grand view of the forest from the Yokahú Observation Tower. After work one afternoon, we will drive to nearby Luquillo Beach to eat at the food kiosks owned by culinary institute chefs and lounge at the beach.Learn more about El Yunque, Puerto Rico
About Alternative Spring Break at UVA
Alternative Spring Break (ASB) is an entirely student-run service organization established in 1992 to conduct service projects during spring break for University of Virginia students. Originally, the trips were designed to function as a simple, service-oriented alternatives to the standard college break experience. Over time the organization has expanded upon this original set of aspirations and experienced incredible growth in both the quantity and quality of service projects that make up an ASB experience. Signing up to participate in an ASB service project has grown from a simple one-week commitment into a year-round experience that emphasizes self-awareness through educational and cultural programs that take place before, during, and after the projects for the purpose of encouraging a more meaningful trip environment. Participants are able to cultivate their ambitions as service leaders at the University and make positive, meaningful change at sites across the country and around the world.
Come to the ASB Service Learning Banquet!
Bring your ASBuddies to the annual ASB Service Learning Banquet to enjoy the spring weather and service learning!! Following presentations by Baireuther Service Learning Grant recipients, we will enjoy Take It Away and each other's company for the afternoon. There will be slack line, frisbee and hammock-ing and it should be a great opportunity to reunite with your trips!