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Alternative Breaks

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Connecting with Community, Learning About Complex Social Topics

Our winter and spring alternative break trips are designed to connect students with community members through engaging, experiential service and learning opportunities. These hands-on experiences prompt learning about community social topics, encourage self-understanding, and inspire commitment to future action.


Leading trips, exploring topics you care about

Our student leadership teams coordinate all VT Engage alternative break service trips. Our leaders are passionate about service, social justice, and inspiring change. They work closely with peers, VT Engage, and community partners to coordinate community-driven service trips. Leaders are trained to develop engaging, learning-centered reflections for each trip.

Throughout each service experience and group meetings, they explore their passion for service and the social topics they care about. Our leaders coordinate a range of service programs and have opportunities to take on increasing responsibility as they progress through the program.

COVID-19 restrictions may impact leading trips for the year.

Our leaders have the unique opportunity to develop their leadership capacities through the lenses of service and social justice. Through hands-on experiences and group meetings, leaders become more knowledgeable about best practices in community engagement and service-learning.

As they develop reflection facilitation skills, leaders learn how to engage in meaningful discussion about complex social topics. Our leaders are trained to cultivate sustainable, mutually beneficial relationships with communities and teach trip participants to do the same.

Leaders are encouraged to venture out of their comfort zone as they learn with and from a team of thoughtful, fun peer leaders. Our goal is to help student leaders recognize their own capacity to be change agents, then equip them with the knowledge and tools to be engaged citizens both during college and throughout their lives.

Leaders are expected to:

  • Attend a new leader orientation in April.
  • Attend the two-day retreat each September.
  • Commit to a yearlong term as a student leader.
  • Attend weekly group meetings throughout the 2021-2022 academic year.
  • Commit to develop their leadership, reflection, and trip management skills.
  • Commit to co-lead or lead VT Engage trips the academic year.

Engaging, learning-centered curriculum

Leaders attend meetings focused on developing new skills and building impactful service experiences for their peers. Throughout the program, leaders will be immersed in learning more about best practices for community engagement and trip coordination while taking a critical look at service and social topics.

Each semester, our leaders will focus on a different set of topics. The curriculum is designed to build knowledge and expertise as students’ progress in the program, with the goal of preparing students to become mentors for new leaders.

Past Trips

  • State Parks Conservation with James River State Park in Gladstone, Virginia
  • Environmental Conservation with Conserving Carolinas in Hendersonville, North Carolina
  • Community Development with Hurley Community Development Center in Hurley, Virginia
  • Disaster Relief and Recovery with SBP in Columbia, South Carolina
  • Disaster Relief and recovery with United Saints Project in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Disaster Relief and Recover with SBP in Panama City, Beach Florida
  • Disaster Relief and Recover with SBP in New Bern, North Carolina
  • Community Development with Hurley Community Development Center in Hurley, Virginia
  • Environmental Conservation and State Parks with James River State Park in Gladstone, Virginia
  • Food Justice with Anathoth Garden and Farm in Cedar Grove, North Carolina
  • Animal and Environmental Conservation with Virginia Zoo and Eggleston Garden Center, Norfolk Virginia
  • Refugee Rights with International Center of Kentucky in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
  • National Parks Conservation with Appalachian Trail Conservancy in the Smokey Mountains
  • Community Development with Appalachian Service Project in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
  • Community Development with Hurley Community Development Center in Hurley, Virginia
  • HIV/AIDS Resources with GMHC in New York City, New York
  • Food Justice with EcoCity Farms in Baltimore, Maryland
  • National Parks Conservations with Appalachian Trail Maintainers in Sharpsburg, Maryland
  • Disaster Relief and recovery with SBP in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Community Development with Appalachian Service Project in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
  • Sustainability with GreenWorks in Asheville, North Carolina
  • Incarceration and Re-entry Justice with OAR of Richmond and Piedmont Regional Jail in Farmville, Virginia and Richmond Virginia.

Requests for accommodations & other questions

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, welcome! Please contact Jes Davis at  jesdavis@vt.edu or 540-231-6947 at least 30 business days before the scheduled trip date during regular business hours to discuss your request(s).

All other questions about our alternative break and weekend trips may be directed to Jes. We look forward to having you participate in our programs!