While many students spent their spring break traveling, lounging at the beach or spending time at home, 14 HWS students were picking up trash along the banks of the Ohio River in Louisville, Kentucky. They were participating in an Alternative Spring Break program made possible by the Finger Lakes Institute and the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL), and were volunteering as environmental stewards, a term used to describe someone who takes responsibility for his or her natural surroundings.
While in Kentucky, the group spent time working with an organization called Living Lands and Waters. The not-for-profit group’s mission is “to aid in the protection, preservation and restoration of the natural environment of the nation’s major rivers and their watersheds, to expand awareness of environmental issues and responsibility encompassing the river, and to create a desire and an opportunity for stewardship and responsibility for a clean river environment.” They do so by leading student groups on week-long garbage picking excursions and by planting native species and trees along river banks to restore the area, which is often times negatively affected by flooding.
This effort to clean up just a part of one of the nation’s largest rivers is a great example of environmental stewardship. The students took responsibility for one section of the river and worked to remove debris, create a better environment for animals living there, and improve the visual and aesthetic quality of the river and its surrounding areas.
If this sounds like fulfilling work to you, consider taking an Alternative Spring Break, or check out some of the other opportunities for environmental stewardship at HWS. You can start by asking at the Finger Lakes Institute or CCESL about upcoming projects and opportunities for volunteering and by reading the newsletters these offices send out.