Alternative Spring Break Program for Climate & Environmental Issues

American Eagle Outfitters and the Student Conservation Association help 120 college students conserve and protect two of the most vital habitats on Earth

American Eagle Outfitters and theStudent Conservation Association (SCA)announced their fifth annual Alternative Spring Break program – a weeklong educational work experience for new generations of conservation leaders. AEO and SCA report they have doubled the number of volunteers and locations this year.

For the month of March, college students from around the country will visit two of this country’s most environmentally challenged habitats for an expense-paid week of hands-on conservation at the Everglades and Joshua Tree National Parks.

“I jumped at the chance to spend my spring break protecting these awesome natural wonders,” states volunteer Oliwia Baney, a geography major at UCLA. “I can always go out and have a good time. My priority right now is to help save these national parks for future generations.”

Participants will help rid the parks of destructive invasive plants, repair eroded hiking trails, assess wildlife health, and more. And while they aid threatened ecosystems, the students will gain new skills, environmental knowledge, and leadership capabilities.

American Eagle Outfitters Foundation Director Marcie Eberhart says the vision and passion of the Alternative Spring Breakers inspires all who love the outdoors. “These future conservation leaders set a tremendous example for all of us. American Eagle Outfitters is proud to partner with SCA for the fifth consecutive year in engaging young people in meaningful acts of volunteerism and environmental conservation.”

This is the second year in a row that SCA Spring Breakers have brought their conservation prowess to Florida; last year, students extended a portion of the Florida National Scenic Trail outside Orlando. Through this and other SCA service programs, 150 SCA volunteers have rendered more than 94,000 hours of service to 36 natural and cultural sites across Florida in the past year alone. This service, valued at over $2,000,000, includes protecting sea turtles at Canaveral National Seashore, mapping shipwrecks at Biscayne National Park, and providing environmental education at Apalachicola National Forest.

According to the National Park Service, more than half the Everglades have disappeared over the past century as water is diverted from natural wetlands. Development, air pollution and exotic plants pose substantial hazard to the Joshua tree, which grows only in the American southwest.

Everglades National Park, Florida
Session 1: March 4-10
Session 2: March 18-24
Thirty college students will team up each week to remove invasive Brazilian pepper plants from the infamous “Hole-in-the-Donut” and the Chekika area near the Nike missile base. Volunteers will also perform trail maintenance repair and remove an old farming fence near Long Pine Key campground.

Joshua Tree National Park, California
Session 1: March 11-17
Session 2: March 25-30
Sixty college students, 30 per week, will eliminate thousands of tamarisk – an especially thirty invasive that steals water from native species, disturbing the balance of the entire desert ecosystem – as well as Asian mustard, fountain grass, and other exotics. Participants will also collect native seeds and conduct a raptor study.

During each of the four sessions, students will camp at or near their work site. The program also includes a day of environmental education as provided by national park rangers and SCA staff.


Photo: The SCA  



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