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VOLBreaks Offer New Opportunities in Sustainable Volunteering

Need plans for spring break?

The VOLbreaks program has you covered! Each semester, VOLbreak student-led groups embody the volunteer spirit and go out into different communities to volunteer and make a difference. Each trip has a unique service theme that participants will focus on. The spring break topics this year include LGBTQ+ Advocacy, Wealth Inequality, Food Insecurity, and Environmental Sustainability.

We talked to the two student leaders of the trip to Arches National Park, Mary Logan Yancey and Grayson Garland to hear more about this unique opportunity and the other opportunities VOLbreak offers.

What makes a VOLbreak special? 

VOLbreaks allow UT students to connect with a new community as well as other students and faculty in a meaningful way. Whether you are already very educated on your trip theme, or know very little about it, the environment of these trips allows for you to bond with your peers over something you are all interested in. It also exposes you to people who come from completely different walks of life. If you are interested in a non-traditional spring break that exposes you to meaningful service and reflection, this is the way to do it.”

What can student’s expect from the Arches National Park Trip?

We will be in Arches National Park, Utah for a week of service and reflection. Your days will be spent performing projects to restore and maintain one of the most beautiful landscapes in the United States. The nights will cap off your demanding days with reflection amongst your peers to explore the purpose, effects, and motives behind what you accomplished. Get out of your comfort zone! Showers will be rare and beds will be sleeping bags, but the experiences you will have and friendships you will build are more than worth it! Some of the daily activities will include combating invasive species, replacing fences, and doing basic trail maintenance, all in a beautiful environment. 

Why is it important to spend time in nature?

Spending time in nature is the best way, in my opinion, to feel connected to the earth and the people who inhabit it. Nature offers some of life’s most beautiful creatures and landscapes, and experiencing that with other people is extremely meaningful and blissful. On the other hand, being surrounded by nature also allows you to see the harmful impacts that humans have on our environment and encourages people to be more mindful of the ways that they contribute to these harmful impacts. This hopefully inspires them to make changes to their everyday life styles, and also pushes them to encourage their friends, peers, and community to do the same. Having the opportunity to care for one of the most beautiful national parks with a group of students who are all passionate about protecting our environment can lead to a really meaningful and impactful experience for everyone involved.

What is something you’ve learned while participating in VOLbreak? 

It is one of the best ways to push yourself to get out of your comfort zone. You become submersed in social issues that affect society on a deep level, and which expose you to new perspectives that alter the way you interact with the world. Even if you don’t feel directly affected by certain issues there is a great chance that it affects the people around you, so it is important to be aware.

Interested in applying? The Arches National Park application closes January 23rd, and you can apply here. Other trip applications are due January 30th. Every applicant is eligible for a scholarship to help offset trip costs. Go out and make a difference!