Alternative Spring Break Comes to Columbiana County

Students from across Kent State University’s eight-campus system recently visited Columbiana County as part of the university’s Alternative Spring Break program. The week-long event paired teams of college students with area non-profit organizations and each day, students volunteered at various worksites in the community and completed a wide range of activities. 

Program Coordinator Rachael Esterly arranged for work teams to assist at Catholic Charities, Camp Frederick, Thompson Park and the Wildlife Education Center at Beaver Creek State Park. The students gave willingly of their time for nothing tangible in return. Esterly was very proud of the student volunteers and was happy to oversee the project. 

“It is so exciting to see such talented and driven students give back to our community on their own accord,” Esterly said. “Their altruistic attitude and work ethic is inspiring. It is a pleasure to work alongside such wonderful people.”

Volunteer projects included cleaning, remodeling, revitalizing, creating trails, cooking, delivering meals and organizing. Thompson Park Superintendent JC Blackhurst was thrilled with the amount of work the students were able to accomplish. 

“I was incredibly proud of the effort the students put forth this week,” he said. “They picked up litter, raked lots of leaves, cleaned flower beds, worked on the softball field, and even re-opened one of the hiking trails damaged during the summer storm. An impressive amount of work for a week! “However, what was most impressive was their positive attitudes. Despite weather that was very unlike spring break, it was always ‘we're ready, what's next?’ It was contagious and energizing.”

Kent State Junior Jason Lemmon has volunteered in Columbiana County for the last three years, returning each year because he believes his efforts truly make a difference. “Each day of the trip we focus on improving the community for the people who call Columbiana County home,” Lemmon said. “Getting to meet such wonderful people is one of the many reasons I have returned to Columbiana County each year. I have made great friends who I still keep in contact with.” 

Also volunteering for the last two years is Sophomore Janelle Nafziger. She continues to volunteer during spring break each year to also help better the lives of Columbiana County residents. “I believe our volunteer efforts provide necessary improvements to the community and inspire residents to pitch in and do what they can to better their home as well,” Nafziger said. 

Students like Lemmon and Nafziger are what make the Alternative Spring Break program such a huge success. Their selflessness, hard work and positive attitudes leave a lasting impression on the county. During the week, 21 students slept at Camp Frederick and, each evening, they participated in discussions and reflections on various topics.  

Kent State continues to promote and support student participation in community service, demonstrating that a distinctive Kent State reaches far beyond the classroom.


Media Contact: Bethany Zirillo, 330-382-7430,