Indiana State University Newsroom

Sycamores to lend a hand during Alternative Spring Break

March 9, 2015

While Indiana State University students will be spread out across five locations in the Gulf Coast and island nations for spring break this year, their missions will be focused more on making a better world than getting a tan.

“One of the most important things for all of our trips is to find a key area or issues that students can do service for, then we add a day in for education and fun for the students,” said Jennifer Christian, coordinator for Alternative Spring Break and AmeriCorps Program Director for the Center for Community Engagement. “We want them to see how important service and helping their community and world is, and these trips are often life-changing for students.”

There are five destinations for this year, including new locations in Costa Rica, Georgia and Florida, as well as returning trips to the Dominican Republic and Alabama.

In Costa Rica, students will partner with SCORE International for service activities, including distributing food in Costa Rican villages, working with school children and going to orphanages working with children. The trip will also include the chance to zip line through a rainforest and tour an active volcano.

Students headed to Florida will focus on animal welfare through work with the Pet Alliance, Orlando, the Dream Catcher Horse Ranch and Rescue, and Arnold’s Wildlife Rescue Center. There will also be a chance to swim with and learn about manatees and take a behind-the-scenes education tour of Sea World.

This will the fourth alternative break trip for Dillon Killion, a junior operations and supply chain management major from Sullivan who also traveled on one winter and three spring breaks.

“I continue to go on these trips because each time I get to experience new facets of life,” said Killion, who will be a student leader on the Florida trip. “It is hard to make community service a one-time venture. Once you have experienced the feeling of helping someone, or being a part of something so much bigger than yourself, you never want to stop. Alternative Spring Break gives you that opportunity.”

His favorite trip so far was the Alternative Winter Break to Daytona, Florida this last December, and he hopes his upcoming trip helps him to “gain knowledge, great moments, a sense of achievement, and of course a bunch of silly pictures.”

“On this last trip, our group of ISU students had the opportunity to stay is a very nice condo on the ocean front, make our own meals every night as a group, and most importantly we had the chance to make a difference,” he said. “We worked with the Marine Science Center in Ponce Inlet, and it was amazing. Just on our first day of volunteering we moved four tons of sand into their bird changes. It wasn’t easy, but it was the most rewarded I have felt in a long time to see what we had accomplished.”

At Camp Twin Lakes-Will-A-Way in Winder, Ga., students will have the opportunity to build and plant an organic garden.

This will be the third year for a trip to Selma, Ala., where students will help youth and conducting community projects through Freedom Foundation, as well as attend nonviolence training, visit historic museums and get a taste of southern cuisine by trying soul food establishments.

As part of a partnership between the Center for Community Engagement this spring, members of social fraternities and sororities on campus will work through SCORE International in Juan Dolio, Dominican Republic to provide services, such as food distribution and working with children in schools and orphanages. Following several days of service, they will have the opportunity to visit a private island, learn about sea life and snorkel.

“In the past, we’ve done partnerships on service projects with other groups on campus, like the Gary service project last year when we partnered with 21st Century Scholars,” Christian said. “We’ve never really partnered before for Alternative spring break, but this year us and fraternity and sorority life got together and decided this would be great a great opportunity for them because they are committed to service, like many other organizations are.”

 All trips had been filled as of mid-February with nearly 90 Indiana State students signed up to participate in Alternative Spring Break, which is a student-driven, national movement to create opportunities for students to reach out to communities around the U.S. and internationally, in an effort to make them more socially and environmentally aware as they gain knowledge and learn practical skills.

“The number of students going on these trips is up quite a bit, probably because more of them are learning about alternative spring break,” Christian said. “We go into a lot of classrooms and a lot of people who have been on alternative breaks want to continue going on them because they really are life-changing experiences.”

Contact: Jennifer Christian, AmeriCorps program director, Center for Community Engagement, Indiana State University,

Writer: Betsy Simon, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-7972 or

Photo: Students participate in the Alternative Spring Break trip to North Carolina in 2014 -

Photo: Student participate in an alternative winter break trip to Daytona -