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Animals and the Environment

Everglades National Park, FL

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Some of the most beautiful ecosystems in our country, but also some of the most fragile, Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park support rare and endangered southern Florida species that exist nowhere else in the world. Despite its protected status, this environment and its wildlife are faltering because of human influence and negligence. The ever-encroaching pattern of development has pushed the Everglades to the tip of Florida, edging out wetlands which used to cover over half of the state. In addition to the rich wildlife, these wetlands are home to more than 250,000 pounds of garbage. Focusing on conservation, education, and environmental service, participants on this site will camp in the Everglades National Park and engage in invasive species removal and trash clean-up in order to ensure that this park can continue to be a viable home for the unique flora and fauna that inhabit it.

Site Leaders: Luis Martinez and Larry Gao
Site Cost: $343

Corpus Christi, TX

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Separating the Gulf of Mexico from the Laguna Madre, the Padre Island National Seashore features 70 miles of coastline, dunes, prairies, and wind tidal flats teeming with life. It is a nesting ground for sea turtles and a haven for 380 bird species. On this site, participants will contribute to the National Park Service’s mission to preserve the natural and cultural elements of the landscape. The week’s major project will be to build a corral protecting nests of local endangered sea turtles from human interference, weather, and predators, but participants should also expect to clean a sea turtle lab and pick up trash from the beach. Weather-permitting, participants will camp on the same land on which they work, sleeping beneath a starry sky.

Site Leaders: Sydney Nelson and Andrew Harwell
Site Cost: $308

Glen Canyon, AZ

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Situated on the northern edge of the Grand Canyon, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area preserves and protects 1.2 million acres of the Colorado Plateau, a vast landscape of colorful buttes, mesas, canyons, and cliffs. Arid to semi-arid, the region supports a complex and often fragile ecosystem. The area is also home to a strong Mormon community and is adjacent to a Navajo reservation. A protected and meaningful site to its neighboring communities, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area nonetheless suffers from non-native plant invasions and relies on volunteers to restore native plant species and maintain its visitor-friendly park resources. While camping in this beautiful National Park Service unit, participants will work with the NPS to protect and beautify this environment.

Site Leaders: Sydney Juda and Hogan Sherrow
Site Cost: $618

Hohenwald, TN

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Since 1995, The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee has served as a refuge for elephants rescued from circuses, zoos, and other animal entertainment industries. Spanning over 2,700 acres, the Sanctuary provides the elephants with protected, natural habitats and a chance to live out the rest of their lives in peace. Participants will volunteer at the Sanctuary for the entirety of the week and work on projects such as landscaping, painting, and creating habitat-enrichment devices. NOTE: Participants will not be interacting with the elephants directly. However, volunteers have typically been able to spot elephants at some point over the course of the week.

Site Leaders: Sam Lee and Jessie Wu
Site Cost: $238

Portland, OR

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Portland is one of the most progressive cities in the country when it comes to sustainable living. Out of countless non-profits working to preserve the Pacific Northwest, participants will work with a myriad of prominent environmental organizations. Part of the week will be spent working with Tryon Creek Watershed Council, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, and Friends of Trees, where volunteers will work on local vegetation planting sites across the city. Participants will assist with maintenance and education at school gardens at Growing Gardens while with Depave, the group will help maintain and revitalize green spaces that were previously urban landscapes. Participants will have the opportunity to gain insight into how each organization serves, improves, and sustains the city of Portland.

Site Leaders: Chet Friday and Rachel Pacernick
Site Cost: $583

Freedom, IN

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Located in the heart of animal agriculture, Uplands PEAK Sanctuary rescues and rehabilitates abused and neglected farm animals, educates the public on the benefits of a vegan lifestyle, and promotes sustainability. Participants will care for residents’ myriad needs by mucking pastures, changing stall bedding, scrubbing food bowls, and giving pigs belly rubs (which they love!). Founders Mark and Michelle will engage participants in various educational activities as well, including an educational tour of the premises, a documentary showing on factory farming, and an exploration into popular vegetarian restaurants in the area. PEAK’s recent relocation to Freedom, IN, presents unique opportunities to assist in construction projects and resettlement. This site will educate participants on how and why to incorporate compassionate living practices into one’s daily life.

Site Leaders: Roshan Natarajan and Michael Roman
Site Cost: $253