After completing a year of AmeriCorps in New Hampshire, I came to work on staff at SCA headquarters and fell in love with the organization, its mission, and the amazing people that are involved with SCA. Now I’m a graduate student working on my Master of Public Administration in Nonprofit Management at Baruch College in Manhattan. It’s a complete 180 from my life in New England, but it’s so much fun! After almost a year in Manhattan, I’m looking forward to a week of getting out of the city, getting dirty and reconnecting with SCA on Alternative Spring Break in the Grand Canyon.
We just wrapped up our work for Day One—it was an exhausting and exhilirating day. My group arrived from the airport late last night, after the sun had already set, so this morning was the first time I really had a chance to take in my surroundings. I warmed up with some coffee and breakfast, introduced myself to my fellow crew members, and breathed in the clean, high desert air. Then it was off to work.
The morning started with some introductions from Grand Canyon staff and SCA interns working in the park, but we soon dived into our project—salvaging native plants in an area of the park that will soon be under construction. The SCA crew leaders and interns helped us learn to identify the saplings and grasses that we were focusing on today. It was simple but rewarding work; by the end of the morning, I could see the fruits of my labor in the happily potted plants and the array of holes I left in the ground.
The biggest treat today was a surprise trip to the South Rim to eat lunch. How can I possibly focus on eating my sandwich when there’s so much to see?! We found a particularly breathtaking spot and took in the amazing views of the canyon (and took lots of pictures too!).
Day Two and Three
What a whirlwind week its been… And its only Wednesday!
Monday night was the first night of Passover, and several of us decided to host our own make-shift camp seder. We ate matzo, sang songs that we could remember (some in English, some in Hebrew, and some that we got halfway through and forgot the rest of the words), and told the story of Passover. It was the shortest seder I’ve ever attended, but definitely the most memorable! I really enjoyed hearing each person’s individual perspective on the holiday, and incorporating everyone’s traditions into our piecemeal celebration. It was such a great way to share a tradition and bond with fellow ASB-ers.
Yesterday (Day Two), we worked on another salvaging project. Many of the plants were similar or the same, but we were working in a quarry area of the park, so the landscape was much different, and the soil much rockier. The desert winds were brutal, but we salvaged several hundred more plants and still managed to have a scenic lunch break at the watch tower on the South Rim. In the evening we sat around the campfire telling and solving riddles, and a group of us went for a walk to the South Rim. The moon was full and the views were breaktaking. I was astonished by how much of the canyon is visible by the moonlight!
Today (Day Three) we had a break from work to explore the canyon. One group of ambitious spring breakers hiked a 17-mile loop to the river and back; another group did a slightly less demanding 12-mile hike to a plateau; I stayed at high altitudes to learn more about the natural and human history of the canyon. In the morning, we had a private tour of the museum collection: a truly amazing archive of the entire history of the canyon, from fossils to photographs to prehistoric art pieces to National Park Service historical artifacts. Our tour guide through the collection was a renaissance woman with incredible knowledge of the Grand Canyon’s rich history, and an SCA alumna as well! I never cease to be amazed by the things I learn while on the job with SCA.
We spent the afternoon exploring the sights along the South Rim, and took in a ranger talk about the California condor. I haven’t had the honor of spotting one myself, but I’m still on the lookout. Tomorrow we’re slated to do some planting along the South Rim (closer to the canyon than our other worksites) and attend a wildlife talk at lunchtime. I’m looking forward to getting back to work tomorrow. We might get some snow tonight, so we’re all bundling up! View more of Lauren’ photos.