Ninety-eight students from the University of Kansas spent part of their winter breaks volunteering across the nation, including Brett Jensen, of Gardner.
Jensen, a sophomore in accounting and finance with a minor in economics, volunteered with Austin Zoo and Animal Sanctuary from Jan. 12-20. Austin Zoo and Animal Sanctuary in Austin, TX offers a safe, caring home to more than 300 rescued or unwanted animals and provides the community with a way to learn about them. Volunteers will support the zoo and its residents, which range from tigers to pigs, by helping with animal rescue and rehabilitation, cleanup and landscaping.
KU’s student-run Alternative Breaks program centers on service-learning trips that provide opportunities for students to include volunteer efforts in their educational experiences. KU Alternative Breaks places a strong emphasis on education and personal growth and encourages students to continue their service work beyond the break itself.
Following their admittance to the program, students attended weekly classes to prepare for their Alternative Winter Break sites. The classes provided more information about the role of a volunteer, how the nonprofit sector works, social justice issues and the importance of diversity and cultural awareness.
The program was established at KU in 1995 with a spring break trip to El Paso, Texas, under the direction of Professor Glen White in partnership with KU students. Since 1995, it has expanded to include fall, winter, summer and weekend breaks.
An Alternative Winter Break counts as one honors unit for the University Honors Program, and, if taken as a class, can count toward service learning certification. The program costs participants $275 ($225 for site leaders) and covers their transportation, housing and meals.