Students lend a hand for Alternative Spring Break

This spring break, almost 100 UM students will forego their trips to Cancun or other plans in order to participate in something a little different. Alternative Spring Break [ASB] participants will spend half or all of their breaks at various sites around the country, performing volunteer work for causes they feel are important.

ASB sites include, among others, domestic violence, hunger and homelessness and environmental work. To apply, students must have a 2.0 GPA and be enrolled full time at UM.

ASB representatives say offering an alternative program for spring break gives students a positive way to spend their vacation time. Students get to travel, meet new people and help others at the same time.

The cost is minimal, between $100 and $350, depending on location and travel expenses. This covers airfare, accommodations and food. A payment plan is also available.

“ASB is a great way to meet new people from school who are interested in the same issues you are,” Kasi Plute, sophomore ASB environmental site leader, said. “It’s also an opportunity to do something about the way the world is, and it makes you feel good at the end of the week to know that you’ve impacted others in a positive way.

“Plus, it’s cheaper than Cancun.”

Plute said she is looking forward to leading her first team and going to the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee.

Other participants agree.

“I enjoy working with animals and have done a lot of volunteer work with them before, since my dad’s a zookeeper,” Christina Malone said. “So I wanted to do something that I’d enjoy and that used my talent over the break.”

Malone’s group will be building a habitat for spider monkeys at Peace River Ranch in Sarasota, Fla.

Shelly Steele, who participated in last year’s ASB at the environmental site at Land Between the Lakes Park in Tennessee, recommends the experience to others.

“It’s perfect for people who want to meet other involved students and who want to do something more beneficial than party over spring break,” Steele said. “The work is really rewarding.”

To learn more about ASB or to inquire about participating next year, contact Jimmy Valdes at 305-284-4483, or email

Jaclyn Lisenby can be contacted at