2017 Program of the Year

The recipient of the Program of the Year award is chosen based on their commitment to developing student leadership, building active citizenship on campus, and a true dedication to quality alternative breaks.

University of Idaho

“The community [Alternative Breaks] was incredibly important for not only my involvement as an active citizen, but also supported my identity and grew my self-confidence. I will forever be grateful for my time involved with the ASB program at the University of Idaho; I am absolutely sure that my experience with this program is not unique and that most students involved in the program grow and become more open minded in similar ways.” - Jessica Darney, Lead ASB Coordinator

Nominator: Calin Bary | 2015-17 Alternative Service Break Coordinator, University of Idaho

Student Coordinators: Jessica Darney, Cailin Bary, Rachel Davis, Zach Lien

Staff Advisor: Natalie Magnus | Program Coordinator, Center for Volunteerism and Social Action

Program Background:

In the last year, the University of Idaho’s Alternative Service Break program has actualized a number of major changes by increasing the number of trips overall, strengthening program sustainability, and investing in student leadership development. The Program and Student Coordinators worked tirelessly to implement new programmatic practices, facilitate the pilot year for a new 3 credit course, and expand their commitment to reaching their vision of creating a campus and community of active citizens.

“The past year rooted Alternative Service Breaks in everything it stands for and made changes that truly align the program with its mission in tangible ways. By not being afraid to try new things, the center has expanded its impact on both students and communities. We’re developing in more ways than we could imagine, and are so proud of the students who have dedicated their hard work to make this possible.” - Calin Bary, 2017 Alternative Service Break Coordinator

Program Highlights:

Created a new 3 Credit Course for Site Leaders

This past academic year saw the development of an ASB class, mandatory for Student Leaders by either credit or audit. Cross-listed with the Sociology, Organizational Sciences, and Psychology departments - curriculum included an in-depth educational approach to equity, systems of injustice, community impact through the lens of cultural humility, and partnerships with non-governmental organizations and nonprofits.

  • Led by Program Coordinator, Natalie Magnus and Lead Student Coordinator, Jessica Darney as a Teaching Assistant - throughout the year, Student Leaders did individualized trip education and orientation research, received in-depth training on diversity and inclusion, and developed leadership skills necessary for facilitating an ASB.
  • Used course time to plan pre-trip meetings, reflections, and other specific details regarding their trip - giving them the time and space to intentionally build the experience.
  • Practiced having difficult and trying conversations around social issues and engaged in critical thought around service work with the goal of growing a strong cohort of individuals committed to respecting and encouraging each other’s experience and progress.

Centered a strong, student-led model

“Alternative Service Breaks have been life changing. As a participant, I learned the value of working alongside a team, but for me, most growth came from leading a few trips. Creating an environment where different personalities can come together as a single unit and perform is not an easy task. However, thanks to the work put in by members of the Volunteer Center, I now feel confident in my ability to step up and lead in any situation.” - Clayton Garcia, three-time ASB Student Leader.

  • Student Coordinators facilitate the majority of training for Student Leaders, who then train and prepare participants on each trip.
  • During the course, Student Leaders are prepared to handle conflict, facilitate reflection, provide training, and build strong relationships with Community Partners.
  • Student Coordinators and Leaders work to build a strong brand and program identity to ensure program culture and values permeate the larger campus culture through active recruitment and inclusive practices.

Served as a Regional & National Leader and Connector

  • After attending the Alternative Break Citizenship schools in 2014, Program Coordinator, Natalie Magnus felt compelled to bring the ABCs to Moscow, Idaho to bring alternative breaks to the attention of more institutions in the Pacific Northwest, highlight issues surrounding the Nez Perce Tribe (both past and present in Washington), and build strong, national connections within the alternative breaks network.
  • In November 2015, University of Idaho hosted a Pacific Northwest Regional Training open to staff, faculty, and students interested in starting or improving alternative break programs at their respective institutions.
  • In 2016, University of Idaho trained and worked with folks from Washington State University to build a partnership that would lead to WSU sending their first successful spring break trips in 2017.
  • University of Idaho’s course-based leadership training has been featured during the IMPACT Conference and on Break Away’s National Conference Call series.

Advanced justice-based programming

The ASB program at the University of Idaho is grounded in active citizenship and social justice, giving each participant the tools to be active citizens working for equity in whatever field they pursue in the future. The UI ASB program is assisting these students in being more conscious and equitable teachers, lawyers, medical practitioners, and much more.” - Natalie Magnus, Staff Advisor

  • Expanded application answers to include fill-in-the-blank options for students to self-identify rather than choosing identity options from a pre-determined list.
  • Introduced “Mystery Trips.” During recruitment, only materials explaining the topic for each trip were advertised to encourage students to focus on social justice issues rather than the location.
  • Implemented a 2017 campus-wide crowdfunding campaign to add weekend trips - offering an ASB experience that was more conducive to students’ schedules and financial status.
  • Centered active citizenship as the vision for Alternative Service Breaks. Student Leaders were trained to encourage the movement of participants along the continuum and serve as a resource for students interested in building their identity within the ASB community.

Deepened each of the 8 Components

  • Strong Direct Service: Students created and presented Community Impact Reports which included the trip’s learning outcomes, and both qualitative and quantitative data that indicated progress toward their Community Partner’s goals and participants’ movement along the Active Citizenship Continuum.
  • Alcohol and Drug Free: Focused on the philosophy behind why trips are alcohol and drug-free rather than simply implementing a mandatory policy. Student Leaders were trained on how to build team buy-in and respond to compromising situations.
  • Diversity and Social Justice: Every team received training focused on identity, privilege, oppression, guilt vs. responsibility, and social issues related to broader conversations surrounding social justice.
  • Education, Orientation, and Training: Throughout the course, Student Leaders researched the trip topic and communicated with Community Partners regarding necessary information for pre, during, and post-trip knowledge.
  • Reflection: Grounded in both theory and application of what a strong reflection entails, Student Leaders created reflection plans prior to departure that aligned with trip specific Learning Outcomes.
  • Reorientation: All teams participated in program-wide reorientation within the Moscow community. Student Leaders followed up with participants by maintaining relationships and encouraging accountability statements made at the end of each trip. Activities for post-trip action ranged from writing letters to state and local legislatures, attending campus events related to various cultural and activism causes, and/or continuing service in their own community.

“Our students ensure the work they are doing is advantageous for all, community members and participants, and focuses every aspect of the program in active citizenship. It is a [campus] program unlike anything I have ever seen before, which is understandable as to why it recruits and trains students and alumni that achieve the unimaginable.” - Natalie Magnus, Program Coordinator.


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