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Opportunities abound in Destination program

April 6, 2012

The Destination program at UW-River Falls has opened opportunities for students to take part in service projects that revolve around social issues that they are passionate about.

This year, 45 students participated in five different service trips that occurred over spring break. These service trips are part of the domestic experience within the Destination program. The program also has an international and local experience and will be adding a regional experience next year.

Destination has grown since it started in 2006 with a trip to help with Hurricane Katrina disaster relief. It is likely to continue to grow every year with more opportunities to get involved.

Destination programmers, Cailin Turner and Elise Koop, explained that the program is always changing. The service trips are different every year along with the social issues they revolve around as well.

“We are branching out and trying to reach more students who want to be a part of the program,” Turner said.

One of the ways they are expanding is by adding the regional experience. This experience will be a weekend service trip held in October 2012. It will take place in Stillwater, Minn. and will involve working with Arcola Mills, an organization dedicated to preservation along the St. Croix River.

UWRF Senior Jenn Vogel has participated in five different destination experiences. Four of her experiences were domestic and one was international. Her first experience was in Galveston, Texas, helping with Hurricane Katrina disaster relief. She says that the hard work and stories of people there really impacted her.

“Destination provided education and service which I wanted to do more of and learn more about,” Vogel said. “My love for service grew more with each experience. I gained a lot of insight into the person I am and the program allowed me to grow as an individual in knowing my strengths and in becoming a better team member and leader.”

The Destination program is concerned greatly with educating students and making them aware of the social issues involved with the service trips. Each group of students is educated by their trip leader prior to the experience to make sure they really understand the issues and what is involved.

“Ultimately we want to create engaged community members. We are really trying to get people to be more involved with the issues,” service coordinator Amy Lloyd said. Over the summer, the Destination programmers will be given the task of planning the domestic trips for next year’s spring break. The applications for those trips will be available in the fall.

Students can already apply for the new regional experience for October 2012 and applications will be out by mid-April for the international experience over J-term next year to Nicaragua.

The program’s mission statement states: “The Destination program at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls fosters socially responsible citizens through active and intentional civic engagement opportunities.”

UWRF student Lindsay Willaby went on her first Destination experience this year and she believes that the program is very important for students’ awareness.

“There are so many issues going on all around us that we’re not aware of. Once you get the chance to experience a glimpse of the issue and help out, it makes you feel like you’re making a difference.”

For more information about the program and to find applications for the different experiences, visit the front desk in the Involvement Center.