Alternative Break Service Trips

Each year, the Volunteer Center and the Center for Student Life at Madison College provide opportunities for students to participate in service trips to various locations in the United States. Alternative break service trips usually happen over winter break in early January and over spring break in March or April. Any student registered for degree credit courses during the semester of the trip is eligible to participate. 

2023 Programs

Local Alternative Winter Break – Dates TBD, January 2023

The Volunteer Center will coordinate one or two alternative winter break volunteer experiences with a focus on addressing community priorities in the Madison, WI area. Activities may take place on or off campus. For off-campus activities, transportation will be provided.

Cost: $0

Alternative Spring Break – March 12 – 18, 2023

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary – Kanab, Utah

Best Friends is a no-kill animal sanctuary in Kanab. While volunteering each day, you will learn about the mission of Best Friends. Volunteer project examples include trail maintenance, landscaping, weeding, painting, or cleaning animal areas. Your schedule will be balanced between service projects, educational talks & presentations, outings, tours in animal areas, and possible hands-on activities with the animals.

On any given day, about 1,600 animals call Best Friends Animal Sanctuary a home-between-homes. Dogs, cats, bunnies, birds, horses, pigs and other barnyard animals come here from all over the country, each and every one seeking a safe haven where they can find refuge, love and acceptance. Participants will stay in a group hostel in Kanab, Utah. The group will fly to a regional airport and drive to Kanab.

Cost: $550, which includes flight, ground transportation, lodging, meals, educational program, and a Volunteer Center t-shirt.


Local Alternative Spring Break – March 13-17, 2023

This alternative spring break will have a local focus on addressing community priorities in the Madison, WI area. Each day, the student service team will meet at the Truax campus and drive to a different community location to volunteer. Volunteer experiences will explore environmental, social, and economic needs in the community. At each site, we will learn about the organization and how its mission addresses community needs. We will enjoy group teambuilding and reflection activities throughout the week.

There is no overnight commitment for this service trip. Participating students commit to service during the day (morning and afternoon) for Monday-Thursday of spring break week. Students must obtain their own transportation to the Truax campus each day, and then transportation is provided from Truax to the volunteer site and back to campus at the end of the day.

Students can choose to participate every day (Monday-Thursday) or participate just one or a few days, based on their availability.

Cost: $0.


More information about 2023 applications will be posted in fall of 2022.

  1. Attend the scheduled service trip information session.
  2. Get your finances together to cover trip costs ($250 deposit at time of application and $300 payment-in-full once selected for a Service Team.) Additional funds may be needed for entertainment, individual purchases, etc.
  3. Learn about the community in which you will be doing service.  Is it urban or rural?  Who are the people who live in the area?  What are their needs?
  4. Learn about the lodging location.  Is it a hostel, a camp, a hotel, a bunk-house?  What services and opportunities are part of that location?
  5. Learn about the service work you will be performing on your upcoming trip.  Do you have the skills and strength required to perform the service work well?  Take the initiative to learn skills and be physically prepared for the service work you will be performing.  Arrange to do similar service work locally to practice your skills.
  6. Prepare to pack light and pack ONLY the essentials.


Recent Alternative Break Trips

In the last decade, Madison College students have worked in both rural and urban settings, serving in Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, DC and West Virginia.

Students have worked with domestic and exotic animals, tutored children, made and delivered meals to shut-in citizens living with HIV/AIDS, cleaned up litter in city parks and debris on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, removed invasive species and replanted native vegetation, torn down flood-soaked homes, sanded dry-wall, and painted newly renovated houses.