BVU students go A.W.O.L. for spring break


Megan Snyder, Staff Writer

Buena Vista University’s alternative spring break program (AWOL) is sending 30 students and six faculty members on three service trips this upcoming break. The trips will go to Florida, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico.

One of the A.W.O.L. trips focuses on the environment and sustainability.

BV students are going to Puerto Rico and teach organic farming practices to the locals. While there, students will emphasize sustainability and environmental responsibility through the use of biodegradable toiletries like shampoo and toothpaste. Students will also practice conserving water and reusing water to irrigate the farm. The trip is led by Director of Civic Engagement Ashley Farmer-Hansen and Elizabeth Reese.

“We want them to develop their conscientious of the world, others, and themselves and what their place is in the world, in that big continuum,” Farmer-Hanson stated.

There is also a more spiritual trip, led by Director of Spiritual Life Ken Meissner and biology professor Kristy McClellan. Students will travel to Washington D.C. and service the homeless community.

The last trip offered is a trip led by Center for Academic Excellence Director Donna Musel and Assistant Director of Career and Personal Development Lori Berglund. Students will go to Deeland, Florida and train service dogs. Students will learn how to train service dogs to help those with physical and mental limitations like PTSD.

A lot of planning goes into making A.W.O.L. trips happen. The vice presidents of the A.W.O.L. program and Student M.O.V.E. started researching in May. Farmer-Hansen said that students go through leadership and communication training months before the trips in order to prepare.

Students complete a service project that relates to their trip before going. After the trip, students try to apply what they learned on the trip to the local community.

Along with developing communication and leadership skills, Farmer-Hanson hopes students gain a new perspective through their service.