Reconnecting with nature while learning about the importance of environmental conservation, several HWS students opted to spend last week completing service projects at Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield, Va., at one of the Colleges’ four Alternative Spring Break (ASB) offerings. Other sites included: Mariam Boyd Elementary School in Warrenton, N.C.; the Hurricane Joaquin Flood Relief program in South Carolina; and the Rural and Migrant Ministry program in Lyons, N.Y.
“In just the first three days of the trip we encountered a lifetime of activities and information,” says Kevin Collado ’18. “Not only do I have a much better appreciation for our environment and the important efforts of conservation, but I spent significant amounts of time with wonderful, new people along the way.”
Led by HWS IT Senior Support Specialist Chad Goulette, students worked with park staff and volunteers to maintain and improve park facilities. After getting acquainted with one another and their surroundings through hiking and kayaking on the first day of the trip, students set to work picking up trash along the side of the road – a seemingly mundane task that left a significant impact not only on the park land, but also on the students.
“With any service project that you do, each adds to your understanding of the bigger picture,” says Arsalan Haider ’17. “Most people who choose to litter don’t think of the long term impact. They think that it’s only them doing it or that their litter won’t do that much damage, but the impact rises exponentially.”
The group also spent two days marking boundaries along the perimeter of the park property. Paired in small groups with park rangers and volunteers, Lauren Workman ’19 helped clear saplings, removed old markers from trees, and painted trees and posted new signs to mark park territory. Workman says the task gave her group an opportunity to “reflect on the meaning that nature had to us,” while also connecting with AmeriCorps volunteers who work in the park.
Through nightly reflections and co-op dinners, students thought critically about their time at Pocahontas while also building lasting relationships.
“The people really appreciate what we are doing, and it shows,” Workman says. “I had the best spring break.”