UNT students focus on community service for alternative spring break trips

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- A group of students from the University of North Texas will be hitting the beach for spring break this year, but instead of sunbathing in their swimsuits, they will be wading knee deep in marsh water and cleaning up the shoreline of Galveston Bay.

Sarah Amberson, a UNT senior studying psychology, is one of the student leaders that take part in the We Mean Green Clean with the Galveston Bay Foundation. She and other UNT students will help restore the natural habitat, protect shorelines and improve the overall water quality for marine life.

"We will be planting marsh and prairie grasses to create a barrier between the surf and shore and collecting debris left from Hurricane Ike, which will help to restore the habitat," said Amberson. "This is a different aspect of community service that I've never experienced and will be a great introduction to non-profit work."

The Galveston Bay cleanup is one of 10 Alternative Spring Break trips coordinated by UNT's Center for Leadership and Service. About 100 students will embark on 10 different trips around the country performing service activities. This program aims to raise awareness of social issues and injustices through education and intensive service learning experiences.

Students will leave on March 12 and return March 18 (Saturday-Friday).

"Each Alternative Spring Break trip is an intensive service experience in which students get to immerse themselves into a community," said Amy Simon, director of the Center for Leadership and Service. "They will learn about themselves and learn about social issues while making a difference. It has the potential to be a life-changing experience."

In addition to the Galveston trip, other student groups will:

  • Counsel special needs children and adults at Camp Summit in Argyle, Texas
  • Rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, La.
  • Distribute food to needy families in Memphis, Tenn.
  • Care for animals at a rescue center in Memphis, Tenn.
  • Assist at a medical clinic for the uninsured in Lafayette, La.
  • Visit children at the Ronald McDonald House in San Antonio, Texas
  • Counsel abused and neglected children at Peppers Ranch in Guthrie, Okla.
  • Volunteer at a head-start program in the Cherokee Nation of Tahlequah, Okla.

Roxanne Ziegler, a senior accounting major, will spend her week of spring break as a counselor at Camp Summit in Argyle, helping special needs campers participate in activities such as horseback riding, fishing, arts and crafts, and a ropes challenge course.

"I love children and working with people that have disabilities. It's a humbling experience," said Ziegler. "You can really reach out and help someone else while helping yourself at the same time."

For more information, visit UNT's Alternative Service Breaks website or call 940-565-3694.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108