Instead of spending spring break on the beach, students from Austin College have traveled 7 hours to spend their break restoring parks that have gone unclean since hurricane Harvey; joining a program called Alternative Spring Break.
“Where people go and serve for a week doing hands-on work and alleviating problems in a community around Texas,” said Vivianna Denittis, a neuroscience student at Austin College.
They’re ready to get muddy instead of sandy.
“I don’t need gloves, I don’t need anything I bought these pants from the thrift store ready to get dirty,” said Emily Collins, student at Austin College.
Half of the students are gardening and the other half are pulling vineyards from a tree helping make it a good habitat for animals passing through.
The Connie Hagar Cottage Sanctuary is a 6 acre birding trail, essential to the wildlife Texas sees throughout the spring.
“A lot of those they nest here have the seeds and the fruits that they eat through the migration [from] south to north,” said Neli Spurrell, an environmental volunteer.
She says in the last year debris and overgrown weeds have stumped growth in the park, making it inhabitable for pollinators and birds looking to make a pit stop in south Texas.
“Think about it like if you are going to a long road trip and if you don’t have a place to stop and drink water, food, or stretch your legs,” said Spurrell.
However the condition of the park it’s not only essential for the birds; places like this also attract birdwatchers that in turn help Rockport’s economy.
“They rent hotel rooms,” said Spurrell. “They go to restaurants and they shop so they do generate income for the families that live here.
And the students helping say if revamping the parks means helping an entire community they’re all in.
“You’re ultimately supporting every single person that lives here,” said Denittis.
“I love helping, I woke up this morning I had a cup of coffee and I said ‘let’s go’,” said Collins.