Caprock Canyons State Park this summer, she did not do so to hike the trails or camp like most visitors. Instead, she worked alongside nine other Texas Tech students to clean graffiti off the sandstone cliffs as a volunteer with Raider Service Breaks.
Raider Service Breaks, a program within the Center for Transformative Undergraduate Experiences (TRUE), offers Tech students, faculty and staff the opportunity to participate in local, national and international service trips during campus breaks, according to the Raider Service Breaks website.
Lozano, a senior Global Communications major from San Salvador, El Salvador, said the experience she had on her trip transformed her perception of state and national parks.
“I’ve been to other national parks and I admired the national parks, but I didn’t know how much work the park rangers do for the actual park until (Raider Service Breaks),” Lozano said. “So, if you go there just with your friends, you’re like ‘Oh yeah, everything is so pretty and all,’ but you don’t get behind-the-scenes of how much work people actually do to maintain the park the way it is and for us to appreciate it.”
In addition to the Caprock Canyons State Park trip, Raider Service Breaks will be hosting a slate of trips during the upcoming year, Jacy Proctor, Raider Service Breaks Unit Coordinator, said. Upcoming programs include winter break trips to Costa Rica to work in sea turtle conservation and New Orleans to build houses, a spring break trip to work in the Grand Canyon National Park and a weekend trip to Palo Duro Canyon State Park.
During these trips, students will have the opportunity to not only serve, but also to learn about local culture and sightsee.
“We do a lot of tours if we’re in certain places,” Proctor said. “Like when we go to New Orleans we’ll have a tour of the French Quarter and we go out to some of the museums, World War II museums, plantations and have tours of those.”
The costs of the trips are subsidized by TRUE, Proctor said. Students pay 60% and TRUE pays 40%. Trip fees vary based on the trip location and duration, but include all meals, travel expenses and housing.
Weekend trips to locations such as Palo Duro Canyon cost $50, according to the Raider Service Breaks website. The New Orleans week-long trip costs $400, the Grand Canyon week-long trip costs $150, and the Costa Rica trip costs $1600.
“Subsidizing is a way to hopefully make students be able to go on our trips,” Proctor said. “And we try to keep the costs as affordable as possible and that’s always either by trying to you know find free places to stay at, we stay at a lot of community centers and things like that, and then we also cook a lot of our own meals on the trip.”
The trips offer a unique opportunity to get an insider look at the place one is visiting, Aaron Perkins, a graduate student studying Data Science from Castell, said. Perkins has been on five trips with Raider Service Breaks.
It is also a chance to meet new people, he said, one of the reasons he keeps coming back.
“I’ve met people from all different majors I know I wouldn’t have talked to or met at all in any other way,” he said. “And I enjoy volunteering and getting to give back to the different communities that we visit because with these trips we get to visit new places, learn about the places, but then also give back to those communities that you visit.”
All students should consider taking a trip with Raider Service Breaks, Lozano said.
“If you want to have a life changing experience and if you want to be more aware of the earth you live in and all the things that we can do for the community, for national parks, for people in general, you should definitely join the trip,” she said.
Students who are interested in any of this year’s trips should reach out to Raider Service Breaks as soon as possible, Proctor said. Trips have a maximum of 13 to 14 students and spots can go quickly, with this year’s winter Costa Rica trip already full.