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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.

Included in all Weeklong Service Immersion Trips

Alternative spring break trips are open to undergraduate and graduate students of any year or major. Trips range in cost between $100-700 (includes food, lodging, and transportation).

Need-based financial assistance is available.

Applicants are asked to rank trips based on their interest level in each trip. Those applying before the priority deadline are more likely to be assigned to one of their top choices. Following the priority deadline, students will be placed on trips on a rolling basis depending on trip availability.


Contact Jett Sable, Engagement Coordinator, at If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Jett during regular business hours at least 30 business days prior to the trip departure date.

Spring Break Trip - March 2-9, 2024

The Highland Support Project (HSP) offers a Partners in Service program that focuses on Indigenous-led intercultural engagements spanning critical areas such as education, ecology, food security, and migration issues. Through this immersive service-learning opportunity, participants will have the chance to work directly with communities, understanding their wisdom, resilience, and innovative solutions to contemporary challenges. Activities will include visiting local museums to learn about Richmond's history, working in a community garden, and enjoying a concert celebration with local bands!

On this trip, participants will learn more about conservation of the Virginia State Parks system. Day-to-day activities will include light maintenance projects, trail construction/maintenance/ and rehabilitation, habitat restoration and other projects identified by the State Park staff.

Activities may require some light lifting and easy to moderate hiking abilities. Participants will also be outside for long periods of time.

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:

  • Commit to a yearlong term as a student leader.
  • Attend weekly group meetings throughout the 2022-2023 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.

Environmental Conservation & State Parks - James River State Park, Virginia

The Commonwealth of Virginia is home to 38 state parks which includes more than 500 miles of trails and access to Virginia’s major waterways. State Parks provide a unique way to engage and reconnect with nature. State Parks are also a rich way to engage in history alongside outdoor activities including hiking, biking, horseback riding, geo-caching, and a multitude of other things. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that we are working to understand the distinct ecosystems and ensuring we are doing our part in conservation efforts.

Food Justice - Cedar Grove, North Carolina

One in six individuals in the United States struggles with food security issues, which involves issues related to regular access to affordable, healthy, safe, and culturally appropriate food. Community farming is one measure that promotes collaborative relationships, health education, and food access.

Environmental Conservation - Hendersonville, North Carolina

Cultural and environmental richness and diversity are at the heart of the Blue Ridge in western North Carolina (WNC). Conserving Carolina works to protect this richness and diversity for both nature and people. 46,000 acres of mountains, foothills, rivers, and farms have been protected to date. Their work goes beyond protecting land, as they aim to engage communities, advance climate crisis solutions, promote equity and diversity, and increase financial resiliency. Through this multifaceted approach, Conserving Carolina envisions a future where communities focus first on protecting natural resources.

Legal Aid and Poverty Justice with Richland County Public Defender Office - Columbia, South Carolina

Poverty criminalization has further stigmatized unhoused people and those struggling with economic distress throughout Richland County, SC. On this trip participants will learn about policies surrounding poverty and homelessness. Through this experience, students will support the efforts of the public defender's office by assisting with code-enforcement projects to prevent unnecessary violations. Students will also learn about the court system through observations and reflection guided by our partners in the public defender's office. Along with the learning components of this trip, participants will have opportunities to explore Columbia and build their leadership capacity.

Social Justice & Advocacy with The Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth, and Reconciliation (Selma CNTR) in Selma, Alabama

Selma, Alabama is known to many as the site of events which sparked the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but its history has not stopped there. Fifty years later, The Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth, and Reconciliation (Selma CNTR) was established near Edmund Pettus Bridge to address the violence and conflicts that still afflict Selma and the nation to this day. Selma CNTR works to address the root causes of physical, mental, emotional, economic, political and racial violence with the goals of institutionalizing solutions to systemic violence and the building of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's Beloved Community.

Requests for accommodations & other questions

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, welcome! Please contact Jett Sable ( 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 Jett. We look forward to having you participate in our programs!