Gintare and her group in Tennessee.
Gintare Ambotaite, a student at the University of Colorado, recently returned from a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee along with fellow students, as part of the Alternative Spring Break program at her school. Gintare was given this opportunity through a Casey Feldman Memorial Fund scholarship, and although she said it was not an easy task, added, “It was an eye opening experience because it showed me that a little effort can go a long way.”
The fourteen students in Gintare’s group spent time digging water bars that would prevent rain or snow from damaging the trails in the mountains and preserving the trails in order to help the community and others enjoy this spectacular national park. Gintare said she loved learning about their environment from the locals. “It was amazing getting to know them, especially a man named Troy who was in his late 50s and has lived his whole life in Cosby. He told me the years he spent working the park and how much this place mattered to him,” she said. “Troy’s story inspired me to work harder because I knew that it was of high value to many people in the area and those who come to enjoy the views of this beautiful national park.”
In addition to preserving and beautifying, Gintare’s group was faced with challenges, including a snowstorm on the way to their destination in Kansas, as well as another snow shower in the camp site. This only made their group grow closer. “I probably wouldn’t have bonded with the people as close as I did and learned as much if it wasn’t for the obstacles we had to face,” she said.
Gintare’s group was also educated about organic crops on Sulfer Creek Farm. The farm’s supervisors invited the volunteers to their home and spoke to them about the importance of organic crops and what they have been doing to promote them to the public. This made her appreciate the food she grew up eating as a girl in Lithuania, she said, and made her cautious about the food choices she makes today.
Gintare said she was very grateful to the Casey Feldman Memorial Fund for allowing her such an opportunity as this. She added, “spending a week with people who wish to give back to the world made me believe that Casey’s memory will continue to live on for many years to come.”
Related Links and Posts:
– Helping our children experience the gift of helping others, article in the Fall CU Parent Newsletter by Casey Feldman’s parents, Joel Feldman and Dianne in which they discuss the establishment of the Alternative Spring Break scholarships in Casey’s memory.
– Casey Feldman Inspiration video , produced by CU Boulder broadcast journalism student Kylie Bearse and which aired on CU Boulder TV News, concerning the Alternative Spring Break program and the scholarships established in Casey’s memory.
Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation News and Updates – University of Colorado/ Alternative Spring Break, all of the Foundation articles concerning the Alternative Spring Break scholarship program
– University of Colorado – Boulder Volunteer Resource Center , volunteer office at CU which organizes the Alternative Spring Break trips