Students use their spring breaks to serve, learn

The Greenville News
Monday, April 9, 2012

By Lillia Callum-Penso. Excerpted from The Greenville News.

Michael Sauer was psyched for spring break this year. After months of nothing but business courses, the Furman business administration major was ready to take a break from the computer and get into nature. But the weeklong vacation was not a break from work.

Though some of his friends opted to lounge on beaches across Florida, Sauer spent his spring break, March 5-9, cleaning trails, removing invasive plant species and building new trails in the Everglades through the Student Conservation Association, a group that promotes environmental stewardship by engaging young people.

“I wanted to experience something different,” said Sauer, who last year spent spring break in Biloxi, Miss., repairing homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

As natural disasters continue to ravage parts of the U.S. and the president’s call to service resonates, more students are taking a different approach to spring break. They’re choosing volunteering over partying.

In the five years since the Student Conservation Association established a spring break program, interest has grown so much that this year the organization expanded from one work site to two, says Deirdre Fitzgerald, SCA’s director of communications. The number of students involved has grown from 60 to 120.

“I think there is this misconception that young people are only interested in themselves and technology and having a good time,” Fitzgerald said. “And in reality, there are a lot of young people out there who are concerned about the future and conserving natural spaces.” … continue reading

Furman University junior Michael Sauer, second from left, spent his spring break doing conservation work in the Florida Everglades with the Student Conservation Association. / Erika Baker / Student Conservation Association