[UPDATE – April 18]: the Alternative Spring Break Experience Presentation will be held from 2-4 p.m. Friday, April 28, in the University Student Union, Rooms 312-314. At the free reception open to the public, students will share their project experiences. Details to come.

For spring break, 22 Fresno State students engaged in Alternative Spring Break, a five-day community service project with RiverTree Fresno, Stone Soup and the Discovery Center that began Saturday, April 8, at the San Joaquin River.

Sponsored by the University Student Union, the Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning and Friends for Civic Engagement, the project consisted of three student teams completing over 1,000 hours of service while enhancing their personal and professional development through leadership, team building, communication and networking with other students and community benefit organizations.

The students worked from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day through April 13.

The first team, made up of six students, worked with RiverTree Fresno April 8 through 11 to beautify the San Joaquin River.

Team leader Karan Purwaha, a junior biology major,  joined with team leader Bernave Tinajero, a junior chemistry major, for a second time to lead this year’s RiverTree Fresno team in river cleaning, land-based cleaning along the river, planting native riparian trees and bushes, assisting in maintenance of the Small Fry Trail and eradicating graffiti.

The second team of nine students worked with Stone Soup April 10 through 13 for a youth camp.

Stone Soup Fresno is an organization that provides support and resources to the Hmong community in Fresno. The team, led by senior English education major Marisa Gutierrez, conducted a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) youth camp while facilitating interactive activities like sports and games for children and families. The project included a garden beautification and maintenance continuation from last year’s Alternative Spring Break project at Stone Soup.

The third team, made up of seven students, worked with the Discovery Center April 10 through 13.

Team leaders Maria Uribe, a senior psychology major, and Jaira Vasquez, a junior criminology major, led projects that encompassed painting, gardening, center beautification, decorating and craft making.

At the conclusion of each day of service, the teams participated in reflection activities to discuss the impact of the service on recipients, the service agencies and the students. They discussed underlying issues and root causes affecting the community, reviewed the Alternative Spring Break experience and reflected on the role service can play in the students’ futures.

Uribe, who also volunteered last year, said before the activity that she looked forward to meeting her team and working at the site again.

“I remember how we all came together as a family,” she said. “It was a lot of fun doing something productive during spring break.”

For more information, contact Marine Vardanyan at si_programming@csufresno.eduor Shawna Blair at shblair@csufresno.edu.

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