WSU Students Build Sustainable Straw Houses in Moab for Fall Break
OGDEN, Utah – Two groups of Weber State University students will mix service with adventure during the Moab Alternative Fall Break Oct. 19-22. One group will help build sustainable straw-bale homes; another will clean camp sites; both groups will take advantage of nearby hiking and sightseeing.
“This fall break will be a unique experience, as we combine many of the fun and adventurous parts of the Outdoor Recreation program with a meaningful service opportunity that will impact the Moab community,” explained Mike Moon, assistant director of WSU’s Center for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL).
Sixteen Weber State students will partner with the group Community Rebuilds to construct sustainable, low-cost, straw-bale housing. Community Rebuilds has 22 homes in Utah, Colorado and on the Hopi Reservation in Arizona for low and very-low income families.
Thick straw walls covered in heavy layers of plaster are energy efficient, safe and do particularly well in an arid climate. For stability and durability, the bales are reinforced with steel rods.
Kyia Hill is president of WSU’s Environmental Ambassadors. She volunteered with Community Rebuilds last year and was excited to help organize this year’s trip.
“Weber State has many sustainable initiatives because we want a better future,” Hill said. “Community Rebuilds does a fantastic job organizing volunteers and educating homeowners, who also work with them throughout the building process. They teach homeowners building skills, which helps them be self-sufficient and able to better care for their new homes.”
WSU’s Environmental Ambassadors and CCEL volunteers will make up the group of 16 who are participating.
The second alternative break is a partnership with CCEL and WSU’s Outdoor Program. That group will assist the Canyonland Field Institute clean and restore summer-camp sites. Canyonland is a non-profit organization that offers school and youth groups experience in outdoor recreation. Weber State volunteers will help them get sites ready for next year’s adventures.
“I think it is important for students to help a cause they really care about because during these trips they will learn skills that can be implemented back in their own communities,” said Parker Ferguson, WSU Student Association Alternative Fall Break trip leader.
Students will work on the service projects on Friday and spend Saturday hiking and rock climbing.
“Getting out of your routine during college is huge if you want to grow and help out your community,” Ferguson said. “The people who attend these trips come back with a broader perspective, not only in providing service but also being served with new experiences. I have never seen anyone come back regretting an alternative break trip.”
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