While thousands of college kids are out cavorting on sunny beaches from the Outer Banks to Cancun, a group of 16 University of Georgia students will be rolling up their sleeves and helping to make Shady Valley, Tennessee, a little better than they found it.
The University of Georgia’s Alternative Spring Break program is sending the Georgia students to Johnson County for the week of March 6-13 (Sat.-Sat.) to help The Nature Conservancy’s Shady Valley Program care for its local nature preserves. The Nature Conservancy has been active for more than 30 years in Shady Valley, protecting and restoring wetlands that are home to rare bog turtles, wild cranberries and more than 20 other rare species of animals and plants.
Under the direction of Charles McQueen, Southern Blue Ridge program manager for the Conservancy, and Lynn Eastin, biological technician, the students will be removing unwanted shrubs and woody vegetation to improve bog turtle habitat; transplanting wild cranberry cuttings; and clearing trails of downed trees and branches. The students will be staying in a cabin on Nature Conservancy property during their week in the valley.
Alternative Spring Break is a weeklong service-learning program that has involved tens of thousands of college students across the nation since the late 1980s and at the University of Georgia since 1994. “The mission of Alternative Spring Break is to engage UGa students in an affordable, weeklong, experiential learning project,” explained Cate Rauschenberger, a University of Georgia senior and one of the Shady Valley project’s two student site leaders (the other is Sara Intner). “ASB gets students involved in a number of areas: children’s issues, homelessness and poverty, affordable housing and environmental awareness. The goal is to get students to learn more in-depth about these issues and how they can make a difference.”
According to Rauschenberger, the University of Georgia students will also be working at least one day at Knoxville Zoo on several maintenance tasks to improve the zoo’s grounds. If time permits, the students may also speak about environmental awareness at local schools in Johnson County. For more on Alternative Spring Break at the University of Georgia, visit www.uga.edu/asb
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.