Spring Break's Newest Destination? Grand Canyon National Park

The Grand Canyon -- an unlikely, but rewarding, spot for spring break.

For most college students, spring break is a time to shuck responsibility and have a good time. For some, it offers a time to relax in one of the world's most famous national parks while contributing a little sweat equity to the setting.

For the second consecutive year Grand Canyon National Park will host the Alternative Spring Break program sponsored by The Student Conservation Association in partnership with American Eagle Outfitters.

Grand Canyon is the only site hosting an SCA Alternative Spring Break program this year. The two one-week sessions begin on March 15th. The program gives students the opportunity to spend their spring break volunteering in one of America’s iconic national parks. Students will work with park and SCA staff on a variety of projects directly leading to the preservation and protection of Grand Canyon’s natural and cultural resources.

Alternative Spring Break participants will lend their hands to Grand Canyon National Park staff from the of Science and Resource Management for a variety of projects, including preparing the area around the Desert View entrance station for plant restoration, which will begin later this year.

Students will also work on continued maintenance of the vegetation restoration project along the recently rehabilitated Hermit Road. In 2008, a five-member SCA Native Plant Corps Team spent three months restoring areas impacted by road and trail construction and planting 20,000 native plants.

Rangers from the Division of Visitor and Resource Protection will join the group for a joint project along the park’s south boundary involving fence signing, monitoring, and non-native plant removal.

In addition to completing these volunteer projects, students will have opportunities to learn about park resources and the National Park Service mission and have an opportunity to explore the park on their own.

SCA is a 50 year-old non-profit conservation organization that places young people in internship positions with land management agencies and conservation organizations across the country. In 2008, SCA interns and Alternative Spring Break participants contributed more than 7,200 hours to Grand Canyon National Park’s vegetation program.

"The students accomplished so much last spring break and we are looking forward to working with SCA and the students again this year," says Palma Wilson, the park's deputy superintendent. "I especially appreciate the contributions that SCA makes towards the preservation of parks as I am one of many National Park Service professionals who got their start as an SCA intern. The fact that students are willing to spend their spring breaks volunteering in parks gives me much faith that the future of our national parks will be in good hands.”

For more information, contact Kassy Theobald, Grand Canyon National Park, at 928-638-7857, Lori Makarick, Grand Canyon National Park, 928-226-0165, or Kendall Schwartz, Student Conservation Association, 310-266-3253.