Iowa State students who worked last week with Harvest Farm in Wellington, Colorado were among 16 from the College of Human Sciences who spent their spring break doing service projects through Alternative Breaks. Contributed photos.

Human sciences students spend their spring break serving others

Sixteen College of Human Sciences students were among 59 from Iowa State University who spent their spring break doing service projects aimed at helping those in need.
Through the university’s
Alternative Breaks program, students engaged in service learning in six states by working with children and animals, preparing meals, helping to renovate homes, and rebuilding trails and habitats.

This year’s trips took teams of students to Colorado, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Georgia, and Louisiana.

All six graduate site leaders of the trips — Alexa Bueltel, Ricky Calderon, Amanda Oller, Morgan Sanders, Lindsey Sheets, and Alex Young — are graduate assistants in the School of Education.

“I have always had a passion for service learning and want to be able to share my passion with other ISU students and see the impact this experience has on them,” Bueltel said.

Working on the farm in Colorado

Five human sciences students — Bueltel and Dawn Thompson in education, Hannah Zulk and Zach Kaufman in kinesiology and health, and Megan Slattery in nutritional science — were among those who traveled to Wellington, Colorado.

There, they worked with Harvest Farm, a 209-acre farm and nationally recognized rehabilitation program that provides jobs and housing for those recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. The farm accommodates up to 72 men who participate in a long-term program with the goal of breaking the cycles of addiction and homelessness.

“This facility takes in men who are struggling with addiction and they go through a step-by-step program to lead them back on the right track,” Bueltel said.

The Iowa State team worked on the farm, prepared meals, and worked on restoration projects and upkeep. They also interacted with the men living there, listened to their stories, and heard about their future goals.

“I’m coming back more educated on addiction and the impact it has on individual lives,” said Zulk, a sophomore in kinesiology. “I hope to incorporate these experiences into my future work as a doctor and know that the world is so much bigger than me and my problems.”

Rebuilding homes and trails, working with youth and animals

Young and Anna Ferris, a junior in elementary education, worked with animals at the Kansas Humane Society in Wichita, Kansas. They walked dogs, socialized with cats, cleaned kennels, helped to repair facilities, and assisted with group classes.

“I helped the team to make decisions, work together, and build leadership skills,” said Young, the graduate site leader. “The trip also provided reflection opportunities on the importance of service.”

Sanders led a team to Cloudland Canyon State Park in Rising Fawn, Georgia, where students rebuilt trails and did park maintenance.

“I love the outdoors and wanted to do something to give back to state parks,” Sanders said. “The work we did on this trip was trail rehabilitation which aids hikers like me continue to do what we love.”

Four human sciences students — Calderon along with Kylee Joiner in kinesiology and health, Mary Tong in hospitality management, and Amber Ford in elementary education — were among those who traveled to Eagle Butte, South Dakota.

There, they worked with the Cheyenne River Youth Project, an organization that provides care, support, and education to youth on a Native American reservation. The Iowa State students helped with after-school care and center upkeep, and presented information on the college admissions process.

Adriane Frauenholtz and Trisha Langenfeld, both undergraduates in child, adult, and family services, were in the group working with Rebuilding Together in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The organization helps to rebuild and renovate homes of those in need. Students stayed in a church in Wilkinsburg and spent the week boarding up a house, plastering another, and drylocking a basement.

“I’ve learned so much from the Alternative Breaks I have been on,” said Frauenholtz, a junior who previously went on the Colorado trip and served as a site leader this year for the Pennsylvania trip. “I believe I will be able to take my experiences to help benefit others in the future.”

Preparing for careers working with people

The Alternative Breaks program at Iowa State began in 2008. For the past decade, teams of students have spent their spring and winter breaks traveling to other states to perform short-term projects for community agencies, and to learn about various social issues.

Human sciences students on this year’s Alternative Breaks — whose career goals include becoming teachers, physical therapists, coaches, doctors, substance abuse counselors, and hospice workers — all said the experience will help prepare them for their future careers working with people.

“I think anytime I have the chance to work with other people, compromise, be challenged, and live outside of my comfort zone, it grows my character and will help me instill the importance of service to my future students,” said Thompson, a senior who hopes to become an elementary school teacher.

“I believe it's critical for doctors to not only be knowledgeable about the human body and the various systems of the body, but to also have the skills and communication to create an atmosphere that their patients feel comfortable in; basically, good bedside manners,” said Slattery, a sophomore in nutritional science who plans to attend medical school to become a family physician.

The practical, global, and leadership experiences provided by Alternative Breaks and other service learning projects contribute to the social good and improve the quality of life of others. They also help Iowa State students become more well-rounded citizens who are exceptionally prepared to lead in a global society and make a difference around the world.

“After graduation, I plan on going into the Peace Corps,” said Langenfeld, a sophomore in child, adult, and family services who was on the Pennsylvania trip. “It has been my dream for a few years now and I know that serving in Alternative Breaks will help prepare me for serving in another country. Alternative Breaks is just a smaller scale of exactly what I want to do with my life.”