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 protects more than 38,000 acres of land throughout Massachusetts, saving birds and other wildlife, and making nature accessible to all. As Massachusetts' largest nature conservation nonprofit, we welcome more than a half million visitors a year to our wildlife sanctuaries and 20 nature centers. From inspiring hilltop views to breathtaking coastal landscapes, serene woods, and working farms, we believe in protecting our state's natural treasures for wildlife and for all people's vision shared in 1896 by our founders, two extraordinary Boston women.
Today, Mass Audubon is a nationally recognized environmental education leader, offering thousands of camp, school, and adult programs that get over 225,000 kids and adults outdoors every year. With more than 135,000 members and supporters, we advocate on Beacon Hill and beyond, and conduct conservation research to preserve the natural heritage of our beautiful state for today's and future generations. We welcome you to explore a nearby sanctuary, find inspiration, and get involved. Learn how at www.massaudubon.org.