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Campus Involvement Center offers students alternative spring break option

The Ohio University Campus Involvement Center is partnering with Rural Action and United Campus Ministry to offer an alternative spring break trip to students, March 6-9. Instead of heading to the usual beach trip getaways, students will have the chance to spend spring break in southeast Ohio engaged in community service projects.

The program is titled, "Go Beyond Athens: Spring Break Service Trip in Appalachia," with a focus on environmental and social justice issues, such as sustainable agriculture and environmental education. This program was created to increase the community service leadership aspect of campus.

Barbara Harrison, assistant director of Off Campus Living and Community Service, emphasized the importance of providing opportunities for students to be involved in service projects.

"It can enhance their own professional growth as well as meet the needs of the community," Harrison said.

She also wanted the program to be local.

"Rather than going to another state, I thought maybe there was some work we can do right here," Harrison said, who has lived in the area for 22 years.

The program will begin with a general meeting on Wednesday, March 6. On Thursday, March 7, participants will work with a local farmer in New Marshfield, focusing on sustainable agriculture. They will also help United Campus Ministry in its weekly night supper. The next project will involve helping build part of a trail at a Presbyterian church camp near Union Furnace as the environmental education component of the program. The last project will conclude near Shawnee with a waste clean-up on Saturday as part of the zero waste element of the program. Each night will be spent at Lake Hope where cabins have been rented.

Harrison wants to build more alternative break options for interested students.

"I really hope we can build a program that students can actually take on leadership roles within service," Harrison said. "When we gather next Wednesday, we are really going to put it in the hands of the students to say how we are going to work together this week and let them take leadership and ownership. … That's what I think is the ideal civic engagement program for students."

Harrison also remarked on the positive benefits of giving back to the community. "When [students] go out to the community and come back, they're really changed because they have learned a lot about themselves and others."

The program has space up to 12 students, with seven spots already confirmed. A payment of $100 is needed, which covers the cost of transportation, food and lodging.

For more information, please contact Barbara Harrison at 740-593-4098 or harrisob@ohio.edu.