John Tolley, March 20, 2018

Winter is in the rearview mirror (hopefully), yet summer is still over the horizon. If you?re a university student, that usually means you have a single-minded focus on one thing: spring break.

For many, it is a time to tune out the pressures of school and let their hair down, which is all well and good within reason. But for a growing number of university students across the nation, spring break has taken on a new meaning.

Seen as a time to give back, increasingly students - along with faculty and staff - are choosing alternative spring break (ASB) trips that offer a chance to travel while making a difference in the world.

Here in the Big Ten, all 14 universities have robust programs that tackle a wide range of issues, from engineering solutions in remote locales to food security to environmental intervention and remediation. Below are just a handful of the truly inspiring service opportunities changing the face of Spring Break.

  • In Riobamba, Ecuador, University of Nebraska students are helping launch mobile health clinics in one of the most impoverished areas in the nation. The Nebraska chapter of the student organization Medlife is organizing the trip. Medlife work in low-income, underserved and remote communities in Africa and South America to improve access to health care. The 35 students on the trip will rotate through a number of disciplines in the clinics and also teach basic health and sanitation to residents of the region. To learn more, click here.
  • Florida is no stranger to Spring Breakers, but for Buckeyes, the Sunshine State is a land of plenty when it comes to ASB service trips. Ohio State students spent the week building and repairing animal sanctuaries, stemming the spread of invasive plant species and constructing Habitat for Humanity homes, to name but a few. And their selfless service wasn?t limited to Florida, as students travelled to 19 states, the District of Columbia and two foreign countries this spring. To learn more, click here.
  • University of Maryland students don?t have to venture far to make a big impact. In their own backyard is the majestic Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the US. But for all of its natural beauty, the Chesapeake is a waterway in crisis as the ravages of pollution and progress have wreaked havoc on this delicate ecosystem. In partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, a group of Terps got their hands dirty learning about and assisting with efforts to clean up the bay. To learn more, click here.

This list is just a sampling of the ample offerings available to Big Ten students. ASB trips span the nation and the globe. We encourage you to find out more about these impactful excursions by visiting the ASB information website of your university.