March 19, 2012

Alternative Spring Break 2012

Alum Paul Bumpus '65 (left) with Wentworth volunteers at the Key Largo Florida Bay Ranger Station

Fifty years ago, the Nike Missile Base in Florida’s Everglades National Park was one of the United States’ last lines of defense against nuclear disaster during the Cuban Missile Crisis. On March 5, though, the shadows of military personnel and barbed-wire fences gave way to garden clippers and sunscreen as student volunteers from Wentworth assisted with the maintenance and conservation of the overgrown missile base, now a tourist attraction.  

The project was part of Wentworth’s annual Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program, which sent a total of 28 students to assist local communities in both Florida and New Orleans. Volunteer work for students in New Orleans addressed the ongoing post-Hurricane Katrina community rebuilding efforts. Students assisted homeowners with yard work and demolitions so that new homes could be built, and they helped residents save money and energy by installing low-voltage light bulbs in homes. “The 2012 New Orleans Alternative Spring Break changed the lives of not only those we helped, but us, the volunteers, as well,” said New Orleans student coordinator, Jamie Almeida, BSCN ’14.

In Florida, the work focused mostly on restoring portions of Everglades National Park and working with local wildlife. Students volunteered at the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center, the Science Center at Everglades Park, and the 30-acre primate reserve, Monkey Jungle, in addition to the Nike Missile Base.

“When I was young I always used to vacation in southern Florida with my family,” said Marie Peters, BARC ’13, a student coordinator on the trip to Florida. “I never saw half of what I saw on my week volunteering. This trip has made me realize that the best way to see a place and get to know what it’s really like culturally and environmentally is through volunteer work.”

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