Throughout this past year students of EKU have witnessed, whether on the news or personally, the havoc that natural disasters can wreak.

For some, seeing nations hit with natural distasters has lit a fire within them.

One way that students can help to fuel this fire is by signing up for community service programs.

One such program is the Alternative Break program run by EKU’s First-Year Experience.

The upcoming trip, Alternative Winter Break, will bring EKU students to Grand Isles, Louisiana.

Students who wish to sign up for this experience may do so on Orgsync. A link to the sign up can be found at community service.eku.edu.

The total cost of the trip is $175, which includes a $25 application fee, said coordinator of Community Service Programs & Colonel’s Cupboard Dylan Bogard. There is a 15-day grace period over which a student who has applied can pay the remainder of the trip’s fees, said Bogard.

There are only 10 spots open, and the trip is first-come-first-serve, said Bogard. Several spots are already taken up so any student that is interested should hurry to apply, said Bogard.

Though this trip does not count as a class credit, it looks great on a resume, said Bogard.

Through the course of the week, each student should be able to get about 40 hours of community service under their belt, said Bogard.

“The trip provides a fun way to travel for a reasonable price all the while giving back,” said Bogard.

The trip begins on Sunday, Jan. 7 when the group will leave early in the morning and arrive at the Grand Isles Nature Conservancy most likely around 8 p.m., said Bogard.

Monday morning the group will tour the Conservancy as well as learn about the island and perform a small service project.

Throughout the rest of the week the students will work with the Nature Conservancy on invasive species removal, said Bogard.

“The students will be working on removing invasive species such as air potato vines,” said Bogard. The students will also help out on a beach and trail clean up, said Bogard.

To finish off their trip, the students will present about Kentucky and its own conservation issues to school children, said Bogard.

The trip isn’t all work and no play though. There is a free day on Thursday where students get to explore New Orleans, said Bogard.

“There are some great surrounding restaurants, especially if you are into seafood,” said Bogard.

The fee of $175 provides students with meals for the week, such as granola bars for breakfast, but the students can spend their own money at the nearby restaurants if they wish, said Bogard.

“Grand Isle has been through a lot of disasters recently, from Hurricane Katrina to the BP oil spill,” said Bogard.

The students will discuss on their trip how the services they are performing in Louisiana are important and how it helps the community.

“We’re gonna get to see the problem the environment in Louisiana is facing and how anyone can pitch in through volunteer work,” said Hannah McGee, a junior English major who signed up for the Alternative Winter Break trip after seeing a flyer hanging in Middle Powell.

“We want students to come back to Kentucky more engaged in their community and more passionate about making a difference,” said Bogard.

If the Alternative Winter Break program fills up before interested students can join they should not be discouraged, said Bogard.

“There will be five community service trips going out for spring break, so be on the lookout for information concerning that,” said Bogard.