Sustainability Snapshot: Students volunteer in Utah over spring break, explore environmental conservation and animal advocacy

Sophomores Marietta DeJulio-Burns and Annalise Morrone reflect on their Alternative Break experience

May 01, 2019

Picture of Marietta DeJulio-Burns (right) and Annalise Morrone (left)
From left to right: Annalise Morrone and Marietta DeJulio-Burns in Utah. Photo submitted.

For many students, spring break is a time for rest and relaxation. For Marietta DeJulio-Burns (ESIA ‘21) and Annalise Morrone (ESIA ‘21), spring break was a time to learn and lead.
Together, DeJulio-Burns and Morrone served as trip leaders for a group of 10 other students that traveled to Kanab, Utah to learn about local environmental conservation and animal advocacy initiatives. They volunteered with Best Friends Animal Society - the nation’s largest no-kill animal shelter - and Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. Throughout the service-learning trip, the group engaged in active service - cleaning up park trails, taking care of animals - while meeting with locals and forming a connection with the community.

“The cool thing about Alt Breaks is that you get to see a whole different side of the cities that you go to and do meaningful and sustainable service,” Morrone said. “I think that’s the reason we both have done it and continue to do it.”

Morrone, who has previously been on Alternative Breaks to New Orleans and Gainesville, Florida, was inspired to join the program by members in her community-service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega. DeJulio-Burns, who is also a member of APO, knew she wanted to be involved in community service groups in college, having spent her high school breaks participating in volunteer trips. After taking an alternative break to New Orleans to work with Habitat for Humanity, DeJulio-Burns knew she wanted to lead one.

Picture of Alternative Breaks Utah group at Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah
Picture of Alternative Breaks Utah group at Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah.

Although the trip took place over spring break, the group prepared for their service-learning experience throughout the school year. DeJulio-Burns and Morrone lead bi-weekly meetings in the fall semester and weekly ones in the spring so that the group could discuss topics that might come up over their break - ranging from diversity and inclusion to the ethics of animal advocacy. They coordinated trip logistics, oversaw fundraising and worked with the Alternative Breaks E-board and the Nashman Center. 

While the week-long trip has come to an end, DeJulio-Burns and Morrone hope that their group’s interest in community service has only begun. 

“We made a list of DC-based organizations with similar environmental conservation and animal advocacy initiatives,” DeJulio-Burns said. “We’re giving participants an easy way to continue being involved in these areas back on campus.”

The Alternative Break program also offers group volunteer opportunities with local groups like Dumbarton Oaks.

“It’s really about igniting a passion and continuing service,” Morrone said. 


Article by Emily Robinson (CCAS ‘19)