News Releases

Ithaca College Students Spend Spring Break Helping Others

ITHACA, NY — While college students from across the country will be heading to warm locales to work on their tans over spring break, groups of Ithaca College students will be traveling to places hit hard by both natural and manmade disasters. More than 40 IC students have signed up to participate in community service projects March 10–18 as part of the annual Alternative Spring Break program.

“This year’s destinations will cover a wide range of issues, from mountaintop strip mining in West Virginia to tornado recovery in Joplin, Missouri,” noted Don Austin, assistant director of community service and leadership development in the Office of Student Engagement and Multicultural Affairs. “Students are excited to be spending their spring break working with others in locations across the United States to perform public service, while at the same time learning more about the cultural uniqueness of each area. These trips give our students a valuable opportunity to explore interests and apply skills learned in the classroom.”

Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration and Community Service in Pensacola, Florida
Students will work with the nonprofit Community Collaborations International on a variety of projects that could include restoring and installing oyster habitat and salt marsh grasses along the shoreline of the Gulf Coast, helping with the growing of native plant populations to be replanted on the shoreline, restoring dune habitat along with thousands of native dune plant species and various human services projects assisting local communities in need.

Volunteering on the Allegany Indian Territories 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 in a variety of activities at the Salamanca Youth Center, including program and activity design and implementation, academic tutoring and helping staff with maintenance projects such as painting and making minor repairs. As part of the 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.

Serving, Learning and Networking in Washington, D.C.
Students will witness firsthand the growing problem of food insecurity by volunteering with nonprofit organizations that serve the hungry in the Washington metro area, including DC Central Kitchen, which delivers over 4,500 meals each day. They will also experience the educational opportunities offered in the nation’s capital by visiting museums, monuments and other points of historical interest and networking with Ithaca College alumni who work and live in the area.

The Impacts of Mountaintop Coal Mining in West Virginia: Examining and
Addressing Natural Resource Extraction in Appalachia and Beyond in Beckley, West Virginia

West Virginia is the epicenter of mountaintop removal (MTR), a process by which explosives and heavy machinery are used to remove the top portion of a mountain to expose the coal fields underneath. Critics of this mining method point to the resulting loss of biodiversity as well as the adverse human health impacts from pollution of public water supplies and exposure to airborne toxins and dust. Students will learn about the coal mining history of West Virginia, observe the impacts of MTR on the environment and speak with and learn from some of the nonprofit organizations and citizens groups that raise awareness and provide education about MTR in Appalachia.

Disaster Recovery: Rebuilding the City of Joplin, Missouri
On May 22, 2011, an EF-5 tornado devastated Joplin, leaving an estimated 8,000 homes severely damaged or destroyed. Students will participate in rebuilding and recovery efforts for homeowners by working with the nonprofit organization Relief Spark. They will also have the opportunity to explore the culture of Joplin, learn from the many community residents who are working to rebuild their city, and work alongside other college students and volunteers from across the United States.

For more information on the Ithaca College Alternative Spring Break program, contact Don Austin at (607) 274-3222 or