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Students to lend helping hand over spring break

February 21, 2013

The Destination program at UW-River Falls is planning its annual spring break service trips for the year.

Destination Programmer Cailin Turner said she is part of a two-student staff, Destination Programmer Shanna Thomsen, who helps run the program, is the other.

The program has four different branches. The first branch is the domestic branch where trips are planned over spring break to locations specifically in the United States.
Next is the Regional branch. This is a new branch that consists of one weekend trip in the fall.

Then there is the international branch. The trips under this category vary by year. The trips occur either over J Term, or in the spring after graduation.
Finally, there is the Local branch of the program, and this is where students just work within the community.

However, for the trips planned over spring break, Turner said that there are 45 students involved in the Domestic branch of the program. Those students are split up between four different locations.

Students will leave the weekend before spring break officially begins, and will return that following weekend.

Each location that students travel to will cover four different issues. The locations are: Cincinnati; Apopka, Fla.; Moab, Utah; and Maryville, Tenn.

The students traveling to Cincinnati will focus on the issue of poverty and homelessness. Apopka is the second destination and is where the students will be learning about the issue of immigration.

In Moab, students will be learning about environmental restoration, specifically plateau restoration.

Finally, in Maryville, the Native American culture is the main focus. Students that are participating will reach their destination by van, which Turner said will be time for a lot of group bonding.

The program is highly focused on educating participants on each of the specific issues so when they return from the trip students can apply what they learned to the River Falls community.

Turner also said she is proud of the program. Students who have participated said that the trips have been life changing for them. Turner said of these students, “they have actually changed their life paths.”

She said that students have even returned to the program to participate in another service trip.
“You look at life through a different lens,” Turner said.

Destination Manager Elise Koop has also actively participated in the program. This year, she was in charge of marketing for the Destination program.

One technique she used was having past participants write a story on their personal experiences.

However, Koop has also been on service trips. She said she has been to Virginia and Alabama, and she went on the regional trip to Stillwater, Minn. The trip to Stillwater was to visit Arcola Mills. While there, students learned about the history of the house as well as preservation of the environment. Koop said that each trip has its own memorable moments.
“You learn so much about yourself,” she added. Both Koop and Turner recommend participating in the program.