Alternative Spring Break for Aspiring Environmental Leaders Returns to Nantucket March 16-21
Michael P. O'Connor
NANTUCKET, MA—The second annual Alternative Spring Break for Aspiring Environmental Leaders program will take place on Nantucket from Monday, March 16 to Saturday, March 21.
As Massachusetts continues to grow more diverse it is vital that Mass Audubon, Massachusetts’ largest nature conservation non-profit, create opportunities for communities to connect students with local landscapes while mindfully providing opportunities to historically underrepresented low-income communities and people of color.
According to Nantucket Sanctuaries Director Sam Kefferstan, “It is vital that all students, no matter their backgrounds, can envision themselves as scientists, naturalists, or enjoying a greater understanding of the natural environment and how ecosystems operate. The program is designed to be financially accessible to students at all income levels and takes place during their spring vacations, because many students need to work through their longer breaks.”
The Alternative Spring Break program, in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Boston, succeeds in creating space for new audiences to experience the great outdoors while also providing education on how to safely and responsibly enjoy these spaces. For instance, participants will learn about the fragility and wonders of our coastal ecosystems.
“The entire weeklong experience is dedicated to providing students opportunities to flex their academic muscles out in the field, network with conservation agencies, and cultivate career experiences they can list on their resumes and reference during interviews,” Kefferstan added.
As a result, each participating student will complete the program as a significantly stronger candidate to begin a career in conservation or other fields.
As a leader in the fight against the existential challenge of climate change and other environmental threats, Mass Audubon has identified the need to better engage young audiences.
“If we are to be truly effective and mobilize as swiftly as possible to address these pressing issues we need to form as diverse a coalition as possible,” Kefferstan stressed. “By building upon our Environmental Career Pathways partnership with UMass Boston, we have been able to move from the inception of the Alternative Spring Break Program into an annual offering.”
At its outset, the program was intentionally designed to inspire and arm a new generation of personal adventurers and career conservationists with the skills, resources, and tools to safely and responsibly enjoy the great outdoors. The program is unique in that it was developed for young people by young people and was ultimately led by young conservation professionals.
Mass Audubon leveraged this aspect of the Alternative Spring Break by sharing with participants how the program was conceived and funding was procured, and encouraged students to provide feedback on how to improve the program moving forward.
In the face of climate change, it is more important than ever that young people understand there are organizations that will support them in pursuing climate action and related career goals
Through this program, Mass Audubon makes clear it will stand with young professionals to develop creative programming that addresses the growing need for solutions to intersectional issues of race, gender, economy, and environmental justice.
Mass Audubon is the largest nature-based conservation organization in New England. Founded in 1896 by two women who fought for the protection of birds, Mass Audubon carries on their legacy by focusing on the greatest challenges facing the environment today: the loss of biodiversity, inequitable access to nature, and climate change. With the help of our 160,000 members and supporters, we protect wildlife, conserve and restore resilient land, advocate for impactful environmental policies, offer nationally recognized education programs for adults and children, and provide endless opportunities to experience the outdoors at our wildlife sanctuaries. Explore, find inspiration, and take action at www.massaudubon.org.