From Alaska to Virginia, Ithaca College Students Spending Spring Break in Community Service
ITHACA, NY — Some Ithaca College students will hit the beach for their Spring Break while others spend it on an island — but instead of working on their suntans they will be working to provide service to others.
Several dozen students are heading out from Ithaca March 6–17 to take part in community service projects at a variety of sites, ranging from rural Alaska to inner-city Washington, D.C., from the Chesapeake Bay to the only city in New York that exists entirely within native peoples’ territory.
Alaska Volunteer Tax & Loan Program
Senior accounting majors Joseph Mooney and Lenny Brown and MBA accounting students Svetlana Svetlichnaya and Brett Snyder will be accompanied by School of Business faculty member Mary Bouchard as part of a program that provides rural Alaskans who don’t otherwise have access to services due to low income, language barriers and geographic location with free help preparing their state and federal income tax returns and handling disputes with the IRS, while the students gain valuable experience.
Ithaca College is one of only six institutions to participate in the Volunteer Tax & Loan Program, which is sponsored by the Alaska Business Development Center. Brown and Bouchard will visit communities on Kodiak Island, while Mooney, Svetlichnaya and Snyder will travel throughout the Yukon Delta. The teams, whose only means of transportation is by small aircraft, often work from 8:30 in the morning until after midnight, with residents sometimes waiting eight or nine hours in line to get their taxes done.
The annual Alternative Spring Break program, sponsored by the Office of Student Engagement and Multicultural Affairs, will send 45 students to five locations this year. The program provides students with the opportunity to gain personal and professional growth through direct volunteer experience and place-based learning.
Historic Preservation and Environmental Exploration on the Cumberland Plateau
Founded in 1880 by British author and social reformer Thomas Hughes, the Rugby Colony in Tennessee was envisioned as a place where those who wished could build a strong agricultural community through cooperative, socialist enterprise, free of the rigid class distinctions that prevailed in Britain. The colony eventually failed, but Rugby lives as a destination for people to catch a glimpse of Hughes’s utopian vision. Students will volunteer at Historic Rugby, learning what it takes to manage and operate a historic site while also exploring the geographic uniqueness of the Cumberland Plateau.
Volunteering on the Allegany Native Peoples’ Territory in in Salamanca, New York
Salamanca is the only city in New York that exists entirely within native peoples’ territory, part of the Seneca Nation of Indians. Students will assist the staff of the Salamanca Youth Center with academic tutoring, program and activity design and implementation, and with maintenance projects such as painting and making minor repairs. As part of their experience, students will gain a greater understanding of the complexity of relations between native and non-native peoples and how culture, politics, geography and economics affect these relationships.
Food Justice in the Urban Environment of Washington, D.C.
Food insecurity is among the biggest crises facing the United States, with more than 10 percent of Americans reporting in 2011 that they experienced involuntary short- or long-term hunger at some point during the year. Students will learn about the causes and impacts of food insecurity in an urban environment. While service with several nonprofits — including DC Central Kitchen — is the main focus, participants will also have the opportunity to visit historic sites and meet with Ithaca alumni working in the nation’s capital.
Social Justice for Farmworkers in New York State
Many people are surprised to learn that Central New York is a second home to a large population of migratory farmworkers and their families. Through the Rural and Migrant Ministry, located in Lyons, students will explore first-hand the conditions and challenges that migratory farmworkers face on a frequent basis, learning how people can advocate for their fair and just treatment. The program incorporates experiential education through immersion and political action with New York’s farmworking communities.
Volunteering with the Virginia Parks Department
While parks are prized for providing us with a place where we can escape stress and come together to celebrate family, friendship and community, they are among the least funded public amenities in the United States. Students will work with the Virginia Department of Parks and Recreation at First Landing State Park, located where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. They will observe how staff manage a park system and learn to work as a team while building and grooming trails, repairing fences and other park infrastructure, and working on decorative gardens.