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Students Lend a Hand Over Spring Break

Posted by struscott | April 28, 2009
Neither rain, nor sleet nor sticky mud can keep a Coug from giving back.

Two groups of Washington State University students spent their spring break giving back to the environment and community. The WSU Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) helped organized the service trips, with a total of 29 student participants in all.

Spring to Action, Break for Change students farming.
Spring to Action, Break for Change students farming.

One of the service groups, “Spring to Action, Break for Change,” spent five days working on several projects and learning more about sustainable agriculture and community food systems. The group of 23 students, including seven students from WSU Vancouver, traveled to various locations in the state of Washington.

Students put up fencing and learned about sustainable agriculture at Benge Farms in Washtucna, worked with the White Pass Flood Relief Coalition to help flood victims in Morton, helped farm community gardens at the 21 Acres Farm in Woodenville, and spent time bagging beans at Northwest Harvest Food Bank in Kent.

Donna Drader, outreach coordinator for the Center for Civic Engagement, said the purpose of the trip was not only to serve but also to help students model their lives to be the best they can be.

Rock climbing in Bishop, Calif.
Rock climbing in Bishop, Calif.

One of this year’s Spring For Action, Break for Change participants, Andreas Keodara, said, “People asked me, ‘Why would you give up your Spring Break,’ and I told them that I was not giving anything up, this was my Spring Break.”

The second service group, made up of six students and two leaders, traveled to the Saline Valley in California as part of the Eco-Adventure program. Eco-Adventure partners with the CCE and the Outdoor Recreation Center to promote sustainable use of the outdoors through positive relationships with the environment.

Josh Gile, a civil engineering student and CCE leader on the trip, said the main goal of the Eco-Adventure spring break group was to help control the spread of tamarisk, an invasive species. Tamarisk can take the form of a bush or small tree, and it is harmful to the land because it uses large amounts of water, destroys natural habitat and vegetation, and salts the earth. Gile said a full-grown tamarisk can suck up 300 gallons of water a day. Students spent three days uprooting the invasive plant.

“This group was really motivated,” Gile said. “It was great getting to meet new people who really want to work hard.”

The Eco-Adventure group made sure to set aside time for recreational activities as well, hiking Cougar Canyon and climbing boulders in Bishop, Calif.

“This trip is the cornerstone of Eco-Adventure. It’s a great trip,” Gile said.

by Bethany Carpenter, CAHNRS Marketing and News Intern