When the Finger Lakes Institute advertised their new Alternative Spring Break program for students who” like the outdoors, getting dirty and love seeing the fruits of your labor,” HWS students responded. “When I looked at the options for the trips I knew that the Ohio River trip to Louisville, Ky. was the one for me because of my interest in environmental conservation, pollution control and, admittedly, my love of getting knee deep in mud,” says Dealva Dowd-Hinkle ’08. “Yeah, I love getting my hands dirty.” Sixteen HWS students joined volunteers from SUNY Geneseo and did just that. “Working collectively we can achieve a great deal,” Katherine Hoering ’10 explained. “We picked up nearly 20 tons as a group. This would take an individual weeks, maybe even months, to accomplish.” The students’ work was supervised under Living Lands and Waters, an environmental organization with a mission to protect, preserve and restore the nation’s major rivers and watersheds. Founder Chad Pregracke began cleaning up the Mississippi River in 1997 after receiving sponsorship money to remove the trash that he had seen building up since he was a boy. The HWS students cleaned the Ohio River and participated in an educational ecology workshop. “Some very interesting things were found during our day,” Stephanie Stahl ‘10 wrote in the collective blog for the trip. “Sarah Gall and I found a TV from the ’60s full of water – and man, was it heavy. A car was found along with a big yellow tube that was easily a hundred yards long. Three hours and around 400 bottles, dip tins and sneakers later, we were all beat and ready to head home for a hot shower. We are all sore but happy with our day’s work and are really looking forward to tomorrow!” “Because heavy rains caused a lot of flooding, safety on the water and access to sites changed the itinerary,” explained Sarah Meyer, community outreach coordinator for the Finger Lakes Institute. The students were unable to remove the invasive honeysuckle plant and clean other inaccessible sites. The students left Geneva on Sunday, March 16. After completing boating safety, they learned about the Ohio River’s history and importance to the area. With this understanding of the impact they would be making on the environment, the students were able to start cleaning. They sorted garbage, cleaned the falls of the Ohio and cleaned the river banks. They returned to campus on Saturday, March 22. Zach Alton ’09 explained how his perspective changed since the trip. “I had no idea of the extent of the trash problem in the Ohio River. There was so much trash to clean up, and there still is so much more. They need all the help they can get.” The trip not only served the Ohio River, but also gave the students the chance to be educated outside the classroom. “I want to get out into the world where the ‘labs’ and ‘projects’ I do have more relevance,” Dowd said. “This ASB trip looked like the perfect opportunity to start getting involved outside of campus while I still had the support of HWS resources.” “The trip was a success,” Meyer said. “The students were great! ” This was the first time Meyer had organized and led an Alternative Spring Break. She explained that some students were interested in careers and internships with Living Lands and Waters. “I really enjoyed helping the students out, answering questions, sharing the experience and providing guidance.” You can find the blog and more information about the program at http://flialternativespringbreak.blogspot.com/ . For more information about the Finger Lakes Institute, visit fli.hws.edu or call (315) 781-4390.