FAYETTE, Iowa (March 19, 2008) - Four Upper Iowa University students and chaperone Daryl Grove, director of student leadership and activities, just returned from Anchorage, Alaska following the annual Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trip. The eight-day excursion, Mar. 7 through 15, offered students a positive alternative whereby they were able to participate in community service in addition to sightseeing and meeting new people.
The four UIU students who took the trip included Karisa Ott, Heidi Laitinen, Mike Minikwu, and Patrick Thomas. While there they did a lot of physical labor for local non-profit groups, including snow removal at The Alaska Zoo and Native American Awareness Center. "We cleared a deck of some 800 inches of snow to make way for spring programming, which makes Iowa's fifty or sixty inches seem kind of trivial," said Grove. "We were also greeters at the zoo one day for a program called the ‘Iditazoo,' which is in reference to the Iditarod Great Sled Race that ended while we were there."
"We also worked multiple days at one of Alaska's largest state parks, the Chugach State Park, clearing a hillside of vandalism and debris when a moose stumbled upon us," said Grove. "That was quite an experience." The group also reorganized a warehouse for park personnel on the only day it was colder than in Iowa-the low thirties-and helped set up for a ceremonial Native American event.
The trip was not all work though. Several days consisted of sightseeing, traveling to the base of Denali National Park, skiing, salmon fishing, a boat tour, and visiting the longest tunnel in the U.S. in the military town of Whittier. "The most spectacular things we witnessed, however, were in Alaska's natural beauty," said Grove. "We saw avalanches, glaciers, wildlife, volcanoes, Prince William Sound, Cook Inlet, and the Gulf of Alaska."
Before leaving, the students held fundraisers to help defray the cost of their trip, in addition to receiving assistance from local businesses and churches. "These outings are life-changing experiences for the students," said Grove. "This trip in particular gave them a strong sense of self-worth and pride, new experiences, new friends, improved decision-making abilities, personal growth and even contacts for job advancement."
For more information about Upper Iowa University and its Alternative Spring Break program, please contact Daryl Grove at 563-425-5311 or visit www.uiu.edu.
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