Congaree, SCMar 4th, 2017 to Mar 11th, 2017
TRIP LOGISTICS & PARTICIPANT REQUIREMENTS
We will be staying at a campsite specifically for volunteers in Congaree National Park, which is close to the bathrooms/showers and picnic shelter (which aren’t available to the general public!). We will provide tents and cooking supplies but participants should bring their own sleeping bags, pads, and other camping gear. We will drive to the park using 2 cars on March 4th with a stop in Columbia, SC for lunch. If a participant volunteers a 7-seat car we will be able to drive costs down more.
There are no participant requirements for our trip. We will be working closely with the National Park Service with whatever they need for the week so all we ask for is a positive attitude towards service work and a love of the outdoors! You can expect a range of environmental conservation tasks- so be prepared to get hands-on and dirty.
Our service learning activities will depend largely on the needs of the Congaree National Park Service at the time of our trip. Potential projects include fire line preparation and clearing/maintaining trails. On the first day of the trip, we plan to stop by the Harry Hampton Visitor Center in order to broaden our understanding of the park’s history as well as learn more about present day conservation efforts.
The Congaree floodplain has an extensive cultural history. From the 1700’s to 1860, cultivation of crops was attempted on the land but these efforts were eventually thwarted by the flat elevation and tendency for flooding. However, the same attributes that stifled agricultural activity proved to be perfect conditions for the expansion of a lush forest, which boasts some of the tallest trees in the Eastern part of the United States as well as a vibrant wildlife. The Sierra Club recognized the need to preserve this valuable ecosystem and began a grassroots campaign in 1969 to protect the area from logging operations. They were eventually successful, and Congaree was designated a National Park in 2003.
The local temperatures at this time of year typically fall in the mid- to upper-70’s with a chance of rain and thunderstorms. Make sure you are prepared with clothes appropriate for the warm weather and possible rain!
The National Park Service is responsible for a large number of diverse tasks in the park and is often dependent on volunteer work. Their job in protecting the beauty of the park is accomplished by controlling invasive species, maintaining trails, cleaning pollution, and restoring damage from logging and agriculture in the past. The park rangers work hard so we can appreciate the ecosystem as tourists. This means it’s important to remember: leave no trace!
When not doing service work, we will be spending our time exploring the great outdoors! Expect lots of hiking in addition to a park guided canoe tour, stargazing, and an “owl prowl” hike. We will also be taking a day trip over to Charleston, SC where we plan on eating local food, visiting a museum, and exploring the city. This day will be flexible with whatever the group wants to do!
ABOUT THE SITE LEADERS
Hello! Our names are Michael Knapp (mdk3zz) and Julia Kuno (jlk3cc), and we are very excited to be leading this ASB trip to Congaree. We met each other during our first ASB trip to Nicaragua in 2015 and now work together as medical scribes in the UVA Emergency Department. We are both from Virginia — Michael is from Harrisonburg and Julia is from Richmond; so we will be excited to get out of the state for spring break!
Michael is a 3rd year Human Biology major who spends his extra time on grounds practicing the saxophone. Last year he also participated in the ASB Zion National Park trip. He has spent a lot of time camping in the past and loves spending time outdoors. Michael and Julia both plan on applying to medical school in the near future.
Julia is a 4th year Chemistry major and Spanish minor who is also musically inclined and can frequently be spotted in the Old Cabell practice rooms playing the piano. Outside of schoolwork, she also spends much of her free time swimming, biking, and running with the UVA Triathlon Team with aspirations to be an Ironman someday!
We both can’t wait to meet our participants this spring break!
SITE LEADER TESTIMONIALS
My ASB trip to Nicaragua in 2015 was an incredibly valuable experience. It was eye-opening to spend a week in a country in which basic resources such as clean water aren’t always accessible and access to health care is extremely limited in some areas. We were able to talk and interact with a variety of members in the communities that we served, some of whom had walked miles in order to attend the free health clinics provided by Olive Tree. More than anything, this trip gave me a greater appreciation for those that dedicate their lives to helping underserved populations, the ones who are truly making a difference. — Julia
Through ASB I’ve had exciting exposure to new environments and have met fantastic people. In Nicaragua we worked in a rural medical clinic which rewarded us with a striking view of the population we would’t have been exposed to any other way. Having direct interaction with the locals was extremely rewarding as I learned so much about local life and culture. Our group quickly became close which made the trip enjoyable and created an unforgettable experience. — Michael