January 12, 2010
Elizabeth Blevins, Director, Office of Communications
Office: (740) 351-3810; FAX: (740) 351-3179; Cell: (740) 464-4854
940 Second Street – Portsmouth, Ohio 45662
Web site: www.shawnee.edu
In the photo, Shawnee State University students Matt
Schiesser and Chris Eatherton paddle through the
Intracoastal Waterways taking a break from working in the
Francis Marion National Forest in McClellanville, S.C.
during the Alternative Winter Break program. Twelve students
and two AmeriCorps/VISTA members from SSU provided a
community service in the forest working on bridge repair,
removal of invasive plant species, beautification and litter
Students at Shawnee State University Work Through Winter
While many students use breaks in the curriculum to spend
relaxing time away, other students are beginning to take
advantage of a new option that is spreading across the
nation known as Alternative Break trips.
State University offers two such trips, one during Winter
Break (AWB), the other during Spring Break (ASB). Students
are able to earn course credit while they travel to another
city to serve the community in which they stay. SSU is in
its third year of Winter Break and fifth year of Spring
Break and the demand from students continues to grow as
students continue to return from these trips with such
SSU students, led by the two AmeriCorps/VISTA members on
campus, Kelly Hatas and Sarah Lowe, recently returned from
this year’s AWB trip to McClellanville, South Carolina. The
group completed a variety of projects in the Francis Marion
National Forest including bridge repair, removal of invasive
plant species, beautification and litter control. Their work
raised a total of $4,550.00 worth of matching grant dollars
for the forest for current and future grant applications.
of a SSU Development Foundation grant awarded to AWB, all
students were able to go on this eight-day trip for very
little money which covered their cost of food. The support
of the Development Foundation is critical to AWB and ASB, as
many students would not be able to afford the trip without
grant supplements for the cost of transportation.
experiential service trips where students are immersed in
the culture they are serving are great foundations from
which students can build to become more engaged in their own
communities. They provide the opportunity to build strong
connections to their peers and the variety of challenges
students face from being away from their comfort zones aids
in personal development and growth. Students were even given
the opportunity to paddle a piece of the Intracoastal
Waterway right in the backyard of where the group stayed.
projects the students completed on this year’s AWB trip gave
the students a sense of accomplishment and pride. After the
litter removal project, one student vowed that she would
never litter again. Students recognize the impact of their
work and come away with a sharpened sense of civic duty and
a deeper understanding of a different culture.
group celebrated the completion of the projects with two
rangers from the forest during an Oyster Roast Potluck
supper the community held for the group.