A group of Black Hills State University students will use their spring break volunteering on environmental projects in the Pacific Northwest. The BHSU Community-University-Resource-Exchange (C-U-R-E) office is raising funds for the fourth annual Alternative Spring Break Trip. The six day excursion will begin March 15. In the past, BHSU students have traveled around the country to volunteer their time and energy, and to improve communities.

The 2008 event will emphasize the importance of working to protect and enrich the environment and applying the knowledge and practice to South Dakota to improve and maintain local environments.

"I really hope to be able to apply my service learning experiences in Seattle on a larger level.  Ideally, service learning should be lifelong," said participant Gina Lende, sophomore speech communications major from North Dakota.

Preliminary plans involve working with environmental non-profit organizations, including Earthcorps and People for Puget Sound, with major projects throughout the week. The fifteen BHSU students will spend their spring break restoring salmon streams, planting native trees, removing invasive plants, restoring wetlands and shorelines and constructing trails. The work sites will be provided by the local volunteer groups in Washington, who will also provide background information about the projects and the goals of Seattle.

“Alternative Spring Break is an exciting opportunity for students to represent BHSU and the Spearfish community,” said Sarah Hanify, C-U-R-E volunteer coordinator at BHSU and a trip advisor. “As an out of classroom education and opportunity to implement and apply what they have learned in Spearfish, I hope it will generate social awareness and encourage critical thinking."

Fundraising efforts are now underway for the travel and accommodation expenses.  The participants will pay for all expenses not covered by donations or fundraisers. Donations for the BHSU Alternative Spring Break team can be sent to the Black Hills State University C-U-R-E Office, 1200 University Street, Unit 9035, Spearfish, SD 57799. All donations are tax deductible, and checks can be written to the BHSU Foundation.  For more information, contact Hanify at 642-6471 or SarahHanify@BHSU.edu.