The People You Meet

Tired and proud machete wielders.

There’s a reason I keep coming back to the SCA. The work is rewarding, the food is delicious, and the locations are beautiful. But all those factors combined cannot trump the best the SCA has to offer: its people.

The SCA draws its participants from a variety of backgrounds. In its diverse programs, it engages high school students, inner city youth, college students, graduates, and many more in the work of conservation. It allows for independence or team-work. It recruits from throughout the country, and really, throughout the world. Its programs exemplify the diversity of the American people, allowing those from all walks of life to experience the out of doors.

Together doing dishes, and loving it. 

Alternative Spring Break is no exception to this rule. ASB participants come from all over the country. They represent liberal arts colleges, state universities, Ivy League institutions, HBCUs, and community colleges. Some are hard-core environmentalists, studying towards a degree to help them “save the planet”. Others are concerned sportsmen and women, caring for the lands on which they recreate. Even more have never set foot in a tent, much less spent a week sleeping outside in frigid temperatures. It’s this variety of experiences that makes ASB so special. Upon beginning the program, SCA’s Ted Miller greeted us with an introduction to the work of his employer. He invited each SCA alum present (one who has previously completed an SCA corps, internship, or program) to speak of their experiences with the organization and the work in which they were involved. One common theme reverberated for me: the value they put in the people they had met while working with SCA.

Killing he invasive Brazilian Pepper tree.

“SCA alums have friends in every state, couches in every city.” With this, I cannot agree more. Some of my best friendships were formed on ASB corps. These friends are now all over the world, doing incredible things. One serves in the Peace Corps, another few work directly with SCA administration, others have sought out outdoor educator jobs with NOLS and Outward Bound, and still more have pursued impressive graduate and professional degrees.

I expect no less from the group I have just met. Coming together from California to Québec, each ASB Big Cypress team member was a significant addition to the group and its goals. Just a few examples:

• Cathryn and Nick provided great knowledge of the local Florida ecosystem as a result of their studies in wildlife at Southeastern universities.

• Katie, Chris, and Cassidy photographed every waking moment of the expedition, and taught others to do the same.

• Justin and Kenneth brought important work experiences to our job sites.

• Patty, Giovanni, Jacob, and others shared their past SCA experiences with the group for the benefit of future applicants.

• Countless more helped Elliott serve up food worthy of a Zagat rating. •

Others offered timely jokes, narratives, and stories to liven the van rides and campfires.

With 30 participants on our team this week, I’m sure I’ve missed many. But it’s neither the individual recognition nor my bad memory that matters in making this point. It’s the idea that each and every member of the team this week made the experience what it is.

My spring break, as well as that of all 29 others, could have been spent many other ways. By choice, we all made our way to Big Cypress to harvest, rake, demolish, and eradicate in the name of conservation. We were dirty, sweaty, and tired throughout, but that did not matter one bit. We knew we were all working for the preserve, for the land, but most of all, for one another. That’s what made all 30 of these people so special.

Patty offering an interview about her SCA experience.