Association of State Wetland Managers - Protecting the Nation's Wetlands.

The Compleat Wetlander: Spring Break for Wetlands

Spring Break has changed.   Years ago it was known solely as a chance to head south, find a place in the sun—preferably a hot sunny beach crammed with like-minded young people—and have a week-long party.  Now there’s more.

Last year the Association of State Wetland Managers was contacted by a group of students in Minnesota looking for a public policy project for spring break. This year we heard from another university with a dozen young people looking for an opportunity to get their hands dirty restoring wetlands.

For a relatively small number of students, spring break is also a chance to broaden their horizons.  Everyone benefits.  Good work gets done.  Schools, universities and student social organizations increase their visibility.  Students can gain valuable experience.  There are a number of spring break service programs organized for students attending a specific university or school.  But it’s not necessary to attend a school that is organizing a spring break project to participate.

Habitat for Humanity, The United Way, church groups and nonprofits are all starting points for identifying a project. http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2671093/alternative_spring_break_2010_
service.html?cat=48

While spring break service projects cover a wide range of social issues, there are a number targeting the environment.  For Masters and Ph.D. students there is the George Wright Society, which sponsors Park Break in a national park. http://www.georgewright.
org/parkbreak

The Student Conservation Association will hold its alternative spring break academy in Grand Teton National Park this year. http://www.thesca.org/serve/internships/special-programs/alternative-spring-break-academy

For those interested in going out of the country Projects Abroad is organizing a sea turtle project in Mexico in 2011. http://www.projects-abroad.org/projects/alternative-spring-break-trips/

There are also wetland-specific projects.  Last year Vanderbilt University Students (Tennessee) spent a week working at Elkhorn Slough in California  http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/localnews/ci_14661489

Finally, it is possible to contact local or national wetland organizations.  When ASWM received a request for help identifying a wetland project in Florida or Georgia this year, we sent out an e-mail to a handful of wetland contacts in those states and within a week had a half-dozen possibilities to forward to the school for consideration.

Spring break is all about getting away from the grind of school, relaxing, spending time with friends and making new ones.  If it’s possible to do that and serve the needs of others as well—then that makes the time even more special.

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