Tuesday, March 19, 2013

UIS Alternative Spring Break students help restore the Everglades

A group of 28 University of Illinois Springfield students spent nearly a week in the Everglades helping to remove invasive plant species as part of the annual Alternative Spring Break trip.

“They introduced these plants that weren’t native to the lands to try and give it more biodiversity, but the plants took over in a way that isn’t healthy for the environment,” said Paige Heiser, a junior business administration major and president of the Alternative Spring Break group.

Students removed plants, picked up trash, and stayed at a hostel during their trip to Florida. They chose the location, planned the trip, and held fundraising drives throughout the school year to cover the cost.

“I’ve never done anything like that before, so it was a great experience being able to do that,” said Claude Henry, a sophomore visual arts major.

Like many on the trip, Henry decided to travel south with the group to experience something new, give back, and make new friends.

“I made a lot of lasting bonds with the kids that were involved,” said Angela Staten, a senior biology major. “You learn a lot about yourself in the process.”

Even after surviving the 23 hour drive, students say it was well worth it.

“I definitely recommend ASB to future students,” said Katie Woodford, a sophomore accountancy and business administration major.

“It’s a great way to get out and to see different parts of the United States that you normally wouldn’t get to see.”

No matter what their reason for coming, the students returned to Springfield feeling a sense of accomplishment.

“I think it’s important because the environment is what keeps us together as a society. We need to protect it just to ensure the future,” said Michael Rosenberger, a UIS chemistry major.

For more information on future Alternative Spring Break trips, visit the UIS Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center website at www.uis.edu/volunteer.

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