HRWC has been sponsoring alternative break projects in partnership with an organization called Break Away and various colleges and universities across the eastern US since 2009. An alternative break is a trip where a group of college students engages in direct service, typically for a week-long period. Each trip has a focus – in our case water quality and improving streamside habitat – and immersion in the issue begins long before the trip itself. Students educate themselves and each other, then do hands-on work with our restoration program.
In a typical year, we host 3-4 alternative breaks. The students work at restoration project sites across the 4-county area, eradicating nonnative invasive plants, installing live stakes of native vegetation and/or planting native trees and shrubs. They also pick up litter and help with minor erosion control projects when the timing of projects allows. Our volunteers provide lunches on each workday and the organization provides a bonfire social on one evening each week. During spring, we call this time “March Madness – Watershed-Style.”
In 2015, 44 volunteers from four universities donated a total of 1065 hours to the HRWC restoration program and its partners including the River Walk in Murphy and the Quannassee Trail in Hayesville, NC. This time has a value of $22,748, much of which was used as match to our restoration program grants!
We are grateful to groups of students from 10 universities in seven states who have helped maintain our streamside areas to sustain good water quality and keep our stream restoration projects functioning!
Michigan State University, MI (2009-2012)
University of Missouri, MO –“Mizzou” (2011-2012)
Eastern Michigan University, MI (2011)
University of South Carolina, SC (2011)
Northwestern University, IL (2012-2013)
Radford University, VA (2014)
Bowling Green State University, OH (2014-2016)
University of North Florida, FL (2014-2015)
Grand Valley State University, MI (2015-2016)
Saginaw Valley State University, MI (2015-2016)
HRWC does not charge a site fee for hosting Alternative Break groups; however, each group must independently arrange and pay for its own accommodations. Groups that have worked with HRWC in the past have stayed at Hinton Rural Life Center on Lake Chatuge. Special pricing is available in the off-season for Alternative Break groups. Contact HRWC restoration coordinator, Tony Ward to inquire about scheduling an Alternative Break trip with HRWC!