By: Blair Hassett
I was involved in the RISE Alternative Break program through Miami University’s Office of Community Service & Engagement. RISE Alternative Breaks invites students to learn, serve, grow and rise as citizens. Each student-led RISE trip provides an immersive service experience over spring break. Focused on a particular social justice theme, each trip is rooted in education, direct service and reflection. RISE Alternative Breaks is a member of Break Away, the national organization supporting the development of quality alternative break programs. Specifically, the Environmental Justice service trip consisted of 13 undergraduate students, and this trip serves the entirety of the Land Between the Lakes community. I selected this organization and this specific trip because I am extremely passionate about sustainability and environmental justice. On a broader scale, I chose Miami’s RISE Program because it offered a great opportunity to get more involved with the Miami community and my peers.
The agenda for the service trip conducted over the course of March 22-29 reads as follows:
Service Site #1: Spring clean up at Brandon Spring Group Center- prepare outdoor program areas for the upcoming season of environmental education programming
Service Site #2: Work at the Homeplace 1850s Working Farm- work with farm staff on spring cleaning projects to the outdoor historical farm exhibits
Service Site #3: Work at Piney Campground- help with repainting campsite numbers and other light maintenance duties required for campground upkeep
Service Site #4: Work at Hillman Ferry Campground- removing debris such as logs, limbs, etc. from campsite areas
One of the most important findings/insights I personally gained from this experience includes the realization that there is a difference between environmental justice and environmental service and, additionally, they are both important in different ways. While environmental justice is a sociological approach to the environment, environmental service is the hands-on action that contributes to immediate, albeit temporary, environmental assistance. This is significant because I now realize the importance of both of these sustainability attributes.
The first RISE meeting where we met one another and bonded.
The morning of March 22, right before leaving for Land Between the Lakes.
Shoveling compost for a community garden at Land Between the Lakes.
Taken during a trail clean-up during which bags of garbage were collected
Photos by RISE Alternative Breaks