Thursday, March 16, 2017

UIS students spend Alternative Spring Break volunteering on the Florida Gulf Coast

A group of students from the University of Illinois Springfield are spending their spring break helping with outdoor eco-restoration projects along the Florida Panhandle Gulf Coast.

A total of 25 students and 2 staff members left Springfield on Sunday, March 12, and will return to campus on Saturday, March 18, as part of the Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trip.

The group is partnering with Community Collaborations International (CCI). Some of the tasks they are doing include shoreline restoration, native plant propagation, sea grass restoration, wild-life habitat improvement, dune restoration, storm water treatment, public land restoration and invasive species removal. Students are also volunteering with children from the Boys and Girls Club. The group is staying at the CCI campgrounds near DuFuniak Springs.

"ASB decided to go to the Florida Gulf Coast this year because there was a large interest from students in doing eco-restoration projects and volunteering outdoors, making Florida a great choice,” said Hailey Hawkins, student president of UIS Alternative Spring Break. “We are excited to be working with CCI once again and be able to have a positive impact on the environment in a new community."

UIS Alternative Spring Break previously worked with CCI to help prevent coastal erosion in Mississippi in 2015.

“Having lived in the Gulf Coast region prior to returning to Illinois, I know about the need for this type of work and I know that our efforts will mean a lot to the people that live there” said Mark Dochterman, director of the UIS Volunteer & Civic Engagement Center.

The UIS Alternative Spring Break student organization was formed in 2009 when students took their first trip to Louisiana to help build homes for Habitat for Humanity following Hurricane Katrina. In following years, students have helped clean up damage from Hurricane Ike in Texas, cleaned up portions of the Mississippi river in Tennessee, helped rebuild homes damaged by hurricanes in New Orleans, helped with revitalization efforts in the Florida Everglades and worked with the homeless at soup kitchens in Washington, D.C. and New York City.

For more information on Alternative Spring Break, contact Mark Dochterman, director of the UIS Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center at

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