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. 

2020 Trips

2020 Trips

Alternative Winter Break – January 7 – 14, 2020
The Everglades National Park- Homestead, Florida

We will be working with The Everglades National Park and the Biscayne National Park to provide assistance with trail clearing, painting buildings, invasive species removal, and possible data collection for research teams. We will do beach clean-ups on islands in the park, removing trash and debris. Participants will stay in a hostel in Homestead, Florida. The group will fly from Milwaukee to Florida.

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

Alternative Spring Break – March 15 – 21, 2020
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 of 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 rental cabin 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 16-20, 2020



This alternative spring break will have a local focus on meeting community needs 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-Friday 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.

Cost: TBD. Includes transportation, daily lunch, snacks, educational program, and a Volunteer Center t-shirt


Winter Break 2020 Application Information

The online application is available now for the trip to the Florida Everglades, January 7-14, 2020. 

Before you complete the online application, here are some details to consider:


  • You must be an enrolled student at Madison College, enrolled in degree-credit courses for either the Fall 2019 or Spring 2020 semester.
  • You must be in good academic & financial standing with the College. 
  • You must be available to participate in the entire duration of the trip.
  • You must be willing to fly and have (or get) a TSA compliant photo ID.
  • The cost of the trip is $550 per student. This includes airfare, meals, ground transportation, lodging, educational program, and a t-shirt.
  • You must be 18 years old or older to participate. 

There are 11 student volunteer spots open for this trip. These are filled in the order in which completed applications with deposits are received. You must fill out the entire online application and then send or bring a check or cash deposit to the Center for Student Life, Madison College, Truax B1260. The deposit is $250 and is due by November 1, 2019. Deposits are non-refundable.

If more students apply & turn in deposits than there are spots available for the trip, the trip advisor and student leader will conduct interviews to select students for the available spots. Please be sure to complete this application thoughtfully and thoroughly. In this situation, deposits would be refunded to any students who were not selected to fill a spot on the trip.

Application details for spring break trips will be available at the end of 2019.

Raise Funds

Here are some simply ideas for raising the money you need for a trip.

Social Media Networks
Use social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, to ask for donations from your virtual community of friends, family, instructors, coworkers and colleagues. Ask others to repost your information to maximize the power of your message. To boost your results, create a free fundraising web page on an online fundraising platform like GoFundMe, which will allow you to easily collect donations from your Facebook friends and email contacts.

It may sound old-fashioned, but there is a reason why big organizations still use door-to-door fundraising as their primary method. Be sure to provide informational material about the cause for which you are raising funds. Your Madison College OneCard shows others that you are who you say you are.

Corporate Sponsorship
Contact local businesses and ask them to sponsor your cause in exchange for a marketing opportunity, such as having a company logo proudly displayed on a shirt you will wear while you are volunteering and/or while you are on-campus. Send letters to your local newspaper thanking the companies that sponsored you on the trip.

Matching Donations
Many employers offer a matching donation program for their employees, in which they will match a certain percentage of funds raised for a charitable cause. Just ask! Sometimes an employer who has never been part of such a program before will sign on because you are valued as an employee and they want to be a part of your growth and success.

Hold a Garage Sale
Clear out the basement and closets of all your unneeded items and host a garage sale, with profits going to support your cause. When advertising your garage sale, be sure to explain that this is a garage sale for charity. If you don't have a lot of things of your own to sell, consider talking to relatives with overflowing closets, garages and basements. In exchange for helping them clean up and clear out, they may let you keep the profits.

Host a Bake Sale
Everyone likes home-baked goodies, which is why a bake sale is one of the simplest fundraising ideas! Host your bake sale at a high traffic location, such as your church, outside a business (with their permission), at an event (with permission) or at your charity garage sale.

Set up an aluminum can recycling bin at local businesses (with permission). Place a sign on the bin, letting people know that they're helping a worthy cause. 

Place an Article in Your Local Newspaper
Write an article for your local newspaper about the cause for which you are raising funds and ask for donations. Your local bank can help you set up a charitable account, if necessary.

Local Service Clubs
Just because you're an individual raising money doesn't mean you can't ask groups for help. Service organizations such as the Lions Club or Knights of Columbus may be able to assist you.

Host a Party
Contact your favorite home sales party person, such as a Pampered Chef or Mary Kay representative, and ask if they would be willing to donate their profits from your party to your fundraising efforts. In exchange, they'll receive new potential party leads and repeat customers from your family and friends who attend. If you, your friends and family members aren't the sales-party-types, consider hosting a party where each guest pays a determined amount, has a nice evening, and you have profits above and beyond what you spend for food, beverages, entertainment, etc. Invited guests need to know up front that you are raising money to help fund your service trip.

  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.