Alternative Weekend to Lincoln, NE

AWOL participants spent Saturday September 17th working with Food Net. Food Net is a local non-profit group that has been in Lincoln for 31 years serving the community perishable foods (breads, fresh bakery items, produce, and dairy) collected from grocery stores and restaurants in the community. Food Net serves at 18 locations 7 days a week.

Site leader Ashley Meiners shares, “It was awesome to see so many people take a little time out of their game day to support others. We worked at two locations and both were entirely different experiences, which was majorly impacted by the neighborhood that the churches were in. To end the day, we unloaded twelve 7 foot tall pallets of donations at Center for People in Need. The donations will be free to people and to whoever needs them. It was a humbling experience to see the grateful people accepting the generosity of others.”


AWOL 9/11 Service Day

AWOL participated in the 9/11 laps for lives event at the Vermillion, SD high school. Laps For Lives served as a remembrance for the 2,977 lives lost on September 11, 2001. Participants in the event walked a combined 2,977 laps. AWOL participants then traveled to Heikes Family Farm. We harvested apples and pears and cleaned up produce that had fallen. Produce that was not deemed good enough to eat was sent to another local farm and will feed pigs there. It was a lot of fun and great to work with our local community partner!


Site Leaders Went to Work!

Yesterday the site leaders for this year’s winter and spring break trips and some of the AWOL board members went out to Heikes Farm to do some service! We pulled weeds, picked a variety of fruits and vegetables, and learned about our local family farm.

Site leader Hunter Burns (leading the winter break Chicago trip) reflects, “Helping at Heikes Family Farms with my fellow AWOLers was a truly rewarding experience. It’s awesome to be able to impact the community and to know that the work you did will benefit many individuals and families.”

Site leader Kennidy Asche shares, “It was such a privilege to go out and work at Heikes Farms today with the rest of the AWOL leaders. We had the opportunity to enrich ourselves in the work and mission of their program which involves providing fresh organic produce to the surrounding community. Their impact on Vermillion alone is significant and spreading all the time as their education endeavors continue to grow. While many would not find pulling weeds or collecting vegetables a glamorous affair, it embodies the purpose of AWOL. We aspire to provide students with experiences that support the fostering of relationships, an education on some kind of social issue, and the ability to partake in active citizenship. It is not so much about the type of service you do, but rather about being part of something bigger than yourself.”

Remember that applications are open for Alternative Breaks until Sept 21!

Click here to apply!!!




Serve and Learn 2016!


AWOL is excited to announce that we will be hosting our annual Serve and Learn from Tuesday, August 16th through Friday, August 19th for incoming Freshman interested in service-learning! This is a great opportunity to learn about Vermillion, move in early, and meet other incoming Freshman along with current AWOL members. The cost is only $50 for four fun-filled days of service learning and engaging with the Vermillion community. If you are interested, please look over and fill out the application below. Spots are limited!

Please email us at if you have any questions, we look forward to hearing from you!

April Alternative Weekend


Our April alternative weekend is quickly approaching! This April, we will be providing service to the Omaha community by working with the Heartland Family Service. Join us Friday, April 22nd through Saturday, April 23rd as we build a community garden with individuals from the Youth Links Facility and Intergenerational Campus. Transportation, meals, snacks, and housing will be provided! We will be leaving Vermillion Friday afternoon, and returning Saturday evening. For more information, email us at! To sign up, click here!

For more information on Heartland Family Service, feel free to visit their website at

USD AWOL Takes on Spring Break

This past week, AWOL sent five trips to locations in the United States to participate in service learning. Our trips went to Baltimore, MD, Pine Ride, SD, Rosebud, SD, Moab, UT, and Sauk Centre, MN and performed 30 to 40 hours of service while learning about the community and social issue in each area. Here are some quick looks at the service performed!

Sauk Centre, Minnesota

  1. Participants had a blast at Camphill Village! They mucked out a pig barn (moving 3 tons of manure and old straw), harvested 87 pounds of parsnips, organized a garden shed, moved furniture into a newly renovated house, and sifted compost. It was a busy day! Then they participated in a relaxing night doing yoga class with some of the villagers. Their big project the last few days of their trip was gathering, splitting, and stacking firewood. Camphill is hoping for another mild winter next year, but if that’s not the case, they helped them gather more than enough firewood to heat their homes for the year.
  2. “We all had an awesome trip and are grateful for all of the new friends we made at Camphill Village!” – site leader Emily Pauli

Rosebud, South Dakota

  1. The Rosebud trip had a very exciting Wednesday learning how to chop wood with an axe, saws-all, wedge, sledgehammer, and a chainsaw! They started the day sorting the piles of wood into different sizes, and then they started chopping away. Mother Lauren, their host, taught them how to use these tools carefully and methodically. After a long day’s work, they had filled two trailers full of wood!
  2. “It was exciting to know that the wood we chopped can help 8 families stay warm.” – site leader Shamly Mackey

Moab, Utah

  1. A halfway update from Moab highlighted a drive across the Midwest, visiting two national parks, and helping build a quarter mile of a new mountain biking trail.
  2.  “We’re learning how to celebrate and appreciate our public lands with Grand County Trail Mix.” – site leader Emily Roberson

Baltimore, Maryland

  1. Baltimore started off their week of service working with Moveable Feast, an organization that packages and delivers food to over 600 individuals living with terminal illnesses and their families, and Paul’s Place, a non-profit that works to promote life and growth by battling common issues associated with poverty and unemployment in the Washington Village/Pigtown neighborhood. After packing food, sorting clothes, and playing with children, they ended the night meeting up with USD alumni and former AWOL president Shane Bryan, who now works as assistant director of the Students Outreach Resource Center at Johns Hopkins University. 
  2. “He informed the group of what he’s been up to post-AWOL and gave them more detailed information about the history of Baltimore. In addition, he provided a first-hand account of what it is like being a resident of the area.” – site leader Kennidy Asche   

Pine Ridge, South Dakota

  1.  Tuesday the team spend their day at the Head Start in Pine Ridge. Each member of the trip got a different classroom and had the opportunity to interact with kids throughout the day. After they left, they headed back to the Pine Ridge Retreat Center to get ready for “kids’ time.” Four of the participants rode in the van to pick the kids up and saw the different neighborhoods that they live in. The team played kickball and board games until it was time for them to go home. For dinner they got to eat breakfast burritos made by a local lady in town, and attended an art show where local artists came and displayed their work.
  2. “This was a great opportunity to learn about the methods and the meaning behind some of the colors and images used in Lakota art.” – site leader Andrew Koch


March Alternative Weekend

AW 5flierOur March alternative weekend is quickly approaching! This coming Saturday, March 19th we will be heading to Yankton, SD to work with Habitat for Humanity. Service is from 9am to 5pm, and will include preparing a home for occupancy. No experience is required! Transportation, lunch and snacks will be provided! To sign up, click here! For more information, don’t hesitate to contact us at

Alternative Weekend Recap


On February 27th, seven USD students attended a weekend trip to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, working with the homeless and learning about poverty in the Sioux Falls community. We arrived in Sioux Falls around 9:30 at Kmart to help load up cribs/mattresses to take to the Teddy Bear Den. Once we arrived at the Teddy Bear Den we priced items, cleaned, played tag with children while the parents shopped, and unloaded the cribs/mattresses. We worked with the Teddy Bear Den for a couple hours and then had lunch at Falls Park. After lunch we went to the Bishop Dudley House. We were able to tour the Hospitality House, pick up trash, and make 50 thank you cards for volunteers. One thing we thought was really interesting was when we were picking up trash around the neighborhood, people from the surrounding businesses came out to say thank you! People were truly grateful for our help in making sure the community was kept clean.  Overall, the group thought the experience was great and really changed our perspectives on how fortunate we are.