Based on a submission for Vice Provost Award of Excellence
Designed to meet various community needs, Alternative Break trips meet community needs while providing compelling learning and civic leadership development opportunities for students.
In June 2016, nine students and one staff member worked with the Warm Springs Extension Office and nine community partners on several environmental, cultural, and health and well-being projects during a week-long Warm Springs-based learning trip sponsored by OSU’s Center for Civic Engagement.
The students participated in community-based service learning to gain increased cultural understanding and intercultural connections, complete projects that met community-identified needs, and explore policy issues impacting the Warm Springs community. In total, the group contributed 78 service hours and participated in 176 educational hours. Projects included assisting in landscaping work, invasive species removal, and grass planting.
“I have formed new relationships with incredible people, have been inspired to be more independent, walked away with knowledge about life on reservations, and a commitment to make a positive influence in my community.” Student quote
Through educational sessions, community events and direct service work, the group explored cultural programming and events, tribal policy and governance, community services and resources, education, healthcare, and hydroelectric energy that all impact the cultural preservation and celebration and health and well-being of the Warm Springs area.
“The trip reinforced my desire to work in public health and brought to light more public health disparities than I was aware of prior to embarking on the trip. [It also] increased my awareness of the health needs of tribal communities.” Student quote
Educational sessions covered a wide range of topics related to tribal life, challenges, and solutions. The group discovered various factors impacting community health and well-being in Warm Springs by exploring elements of food sourcing, tribal ceremonies, community and cultural activities, and outdoor recreation. The group visited extensively with faculty and staff at the Warm Springs Extension Office to learn about the services and programs put on by OSU Extension for the community and the role of OSU Extension in the Warm Springs community.
“I’ve been impacted immensely by this trip. I always knew I wanted to do community work no matter what field I ended up in, but seeing it with my own eyes really solidified my future plans for a career in activism.” Student quote
Students also learned about Native traditions, customs, the history of the Warm Springs, Wasco, and Pauite tribes and the Treaty of 1855 through their conversations with tribal members and visiting the Museum at Warm Springs. By spending time with tribal members, trip participants explored and learned about the tribal customs and issues impacting tribal communities today through personal narrative and story sharing.
OSU units, tribal government agencies, and local nonprofits are all a part of this program to co-create environments for students to learn about social issues and contribute to addressing community needs each year. Partnerships are foundational to this program, the content is cross-disciplinary (public health, ethnic studies, environmental science, education), and the result is transformational learning for OSU students.
“I am amazed, intrigued, and humbled. I will forever hope to continue to grow and open my mind in the way I did on this trip.” Student quote
Creating the Alternative Break program relies on community and staff partnerships to co-create experiences that are rewarding for the students and valued by the Warm Springs:
- Carol Leone, Executive Director, Museum at Warm Springs
- Tamera Moody, Education Coordinator, Museum at Warm Springs
- Kacey Conyers, Community Health Dietitian, Warm Springs Health & Wellness Center
- Alyssa Macy, Chief Operations Manager, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs
- Jefferson Greene, Director of Youth Development, Warm Springs Culture & Heritage
- Jim Manion, General Manager, Warm Springs Power & Water Enterprises
- Ken Kippley, Tribal Police Officer, Warm Springs Police Department
- Frank Smith (Footer), Elder, Tribal member
- Emily Bowling, Assistant Director of Student Leadership & Involvement, Oregon State University
- Rosanna Sanders, OFNEP Nutrition Education Program Assistant , OSU
- Beth Ann Beamer, County Leader at Warm Springs Extension, Family & Community Health Coordinator, OSU
The Warm Springs Student Alternative Break Program will receive a Vice Provost Award of Excellence on April 17, 2017.