Some of the most beautiful ecosystems in our country, but also some of the most fragile, Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park support rare and endangered southern Florida species that exist nowhere else in the world. Despite its protected status, this environment and its wildlife are faltering because of human influence and negligence. The ever-encroaching pattern of development has pushed the Everglades to the tip of Florida, edging out wetlands which used to cover over half of the state. In addition to the rich wildlife, these wetlands are home to more than 250,000 pounds of garbage. Focusing on conservation, education, and environmental service, participants on this site will camp in the Everglades National Park and engage in invasive species removal and trash clean-up in order to ensure that this park can continue to be a viable home for the unique flora and fauna that inhabit it.
Site Leaders: Andrew Grant and Ayaz Hafiz
Site Cost: $325 before fee waiver
Separating the Gulf of Mexico from the Laguna Madre, the Padre Island National Seashore features 70 miles of coastline, dunes, prairies, and wind tidal flats teeming with life. It is a nesting ground for sea turtles and a haven for 380 bird species. On this site, participants will contribute to the National Park Service’s mission to preserve the natural and cultural elements of the landscape. The week’s major project will be to build a corral protecting nests of local endangered sea turtles from human interference, weather, and predators, but participants should also expect to clean a sea turtle lab and pick up trash from the beach. Weather-permitting, participants will camp on the same land on which they work, sleeping beneath a starry sky.
Site Leaders: Abbey Roberts, Kevin Hu, and Mila Sicorsky
Site Cost: $315 before fee waiver
Situated on the northern edge of the Grand Canyon, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area preserves and protects 1.2 million acres of the Colorado Plateau, a vast landscape of colorful buttes, mesas, canyons, and cliffs. Arid to semi-arid, the region supports a complex and often fragile ecosystem. The area is also host to a strong Mormon community and is adjacent to a Navajo reservation. A protected site, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area nonetheless suffers from non-native plant invasions and relies on volunteers to restore native plant species and maintain its visitor-friendly park resources. While camping in this beautiful National Park Service unit, participants will work with the NPS to protect and beautify this environment.
Site Leaders: Frances Burton and Rachel Su
Site Cost: $625 before fee waiver
Since 1995, The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee has served as a refuge for elephants rescued from circuses, zoos, and other animal entertainment industries. Spanning over 2,700 acres, the Sanctuary provides the elephants with protected, natural habitats and a chance to live out the rest of their lives in peace. Participants will volunteer at the Sanctuary for the entirety of the week and work on projects such as landscaping, painting, and creating habitat enrichment devices. NOTE: Participants will not be interacting with the elephants directly. However, volunteers have typically been able to spot elephants at some point over the course of the week.
Site Leaders: Kyle Gavulic and Thomas Kozar
Site Cost: $230 before fee waiver
Portland is one of the most progressive cities in the country when it comes to sustainable living. Out of countless non-profits working to preserve the Pacific Northwest, participants will work with prominent environmental organizations such as Dig In, Friends of Trees, Depave, Tryon Creek Watershed Council, City Repair, and the ReBuilding Center. At the ReBuilding Center, volunteers will work in a recycling warehouse salvaging reclaimed materials. With Dig In, Tryon Creek, and Friends of Trees, volunteers will work on local vegetation planting sites across the city. With Depave, the group will help tear out a parking lot or road which will be replaced with a green space. The group will also visit Dignity Village, a sustainable, democratic community for people experiencing homelessness. Participants will see how each organization serves, improves, and sustains the city of Portland.
Site Leaders: Sydney Juda and Travis Duck
Site Cost: $665 before fee waiver
Located in the heart of animal agriculture, Uplands PEAK Sanctuary rescues and rehabilitates abused and neglected farm animals, educates the public on the benefits of a vegan lifestyle, and promotes sustainability. Participants will care for residents’ myriad needs by mucking pastures, changing stall bedding, scrubbing food bowls, and giving pigs belly rubs (which they love!). Founders Mark and Michelle will engage participants in various educational activities as well, including an educational tour of the premises, a documentary showing on factory farming, and a vegan cooking session. PEAK’s recent relocation to Freedom, IN, presents unique opportunities to assist in construction projects and resettlement. This site will educate participants on how and why to incorporate compassionate living practices into one’s daily life.
Site Leaders: Dong Kim and Marguerite Manning
Site Cost: $235 before fee waiver