UPDATE: After a two-year pause, Alternative Break is back this Spring Break 2022!

Alt. Break offers week-long service-learning programs traveling to Washington, Southern Oregon, and California during OSU’s spring break (March 19-26)!

During these multi-day, overnight programs, groups of 10-12 students immerse themselves in one of three Pacific Northwest communities to learn its historical, cultural, and political background. Students engage in a variety of direct service projects, educational conversations and presentations, and reflective dialogue with leaders and change-makers in their respective communities. You’ll have the opportunity to explore the complexity of social issues, reflect on your own assumptions, and develop your ability to lead for social change, all while connecting with fellow OSU students!

Important Note on Program Length:

We are working to rebuild Alt. Break after not offering the program for two years. We are in the process of re-establishing partnerships with the community organizations and non-profits we work with in each location. Due to their evolving needs and ability to partner with us, as well as the ongoing pandemic, each of the Alt. Break programs may be anywhere from 3-7 days in length. We are hoping to offer full 7-day programs for each location, but the possibility of needing to shorten the programs slightly does exist. We are committed to offering the programs in some form and length during the March 19th-26th date range and we will confirm final program lengths with selected participants.

For questions regarding Alternative Break, contact us at [email protected] or 541-737-3041.

Application Deadlines

Priority Deadline: Friday, January 28th at 5:00 pm
Final Deadline: Friday, March 4th at 5:00 pm

For full consideration, please apply by the priority deadline. Participants who apply by the priority deadline will be notified of their application status no later than the end of Week 5 of winter term (Friday, February 4th, 2022).

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until all 3 Alt. Break teams are full. Applicants who are not assigned to a team after the priority deadline will be added to a waitlist. Students are welcome to continue applying until the final deadline of Friday, March 4th.



"I am amazed, intrigued, and humbled. I will forever hope to continue to grow and open my mind in the way I did on this trip."
-past Alt. Break participant

Alternative Break Programs

Explore the complex, multi-faceted factors at play impacting food and housing security in San Francisco and learn about homelessness issues in major urban areas including the short-term relief and long-term solutions that are being worked for and envisioned. Participants will complete service projects centered on addressing food and housing security while meeting and working alongside local visionaries who actively address these issues in their communities. If you have an interest in learning about homelessness issues in major urban areas, this is the perfect trip for you. The trip will include hands-on direct service work such as preparing and serving meals, assembling toiletry kits, assembling harm reduction kits, et cetera. Additionally, we will gain behind the scenes awareness and understanding of community organizations working on these issues through educational sessions and dialogue with local community leaders and team reflective activities. On our community immersion day, we will explore San Francisco and all that it has to offer! Please note: Participants will do a fair amount of walking (1-2 miles on some days) and take public transportation around the city to travel between projects and sessions. Additionally, some food packing projects may ask participants to work with common allergens (e.g. peanuts). We will work to find suitable accommodations to the best of our ability.

Uncover the human face, cost, and impact of land acquisition, colonization, and immigration by exploring the influx and interplay of different cultural groups in the Yakima Valley.  This program offers a wide variety of experiences and narratives. We mainly focused on the experiences of: Native Americans from the Yakama Nation, Filipino-Americans, Latino/a/x community, undocumented migrant workers and their families, those experiencing housing insecurity, children, economic disparities, food insecurity, influences of agriculture, environmental justice, and more. Each day is filled with vitally important information that assists in the understanding of the systemic roots of oppression and marginalization in the Yakima Valley. Through direct service work, dialogue with community leaders, and team reflective activities, we will examine the buried roots of the area’s historical relationship to the land and explore implications for the present and future of different cultural groups in the region. The trip begins with an introduction to the history and culture of Yakama Nation via a visit to the Toppenish Longhouse. During our community immersion day, the group will elect outings that may include some of the following: group hike or park visit, a community festival or fair, Yakama Nation Cultural Heritage Center, or Yakima Valley Museum.

Discover the pressing environmental conservation and restoration issues in Ashland, Oregon area. We will complete projects such as creek restoration, planting native species, mulching, invasive species removal, garden-based projects, trail building/maintenance, and other environmental restoration/conservation projects with a variety of community organizations. We will meet with local environmental leaders to learn about threats to the natural environment, local factors impacting natural habitats and ecosystems, renewable energy, waste reduction, and various sustainability topics. Lodging will be at a local ranch, Willow-Witt, focused on sustainable farming which will add to our exploration of holistic sustainability and small scale farming and ranching. Power and privilege in the environmental movement and connections between environmental and social and economic justice will be examined. This trip will include many hands-on, physical projects, team reflective activities, and possible hikes in the beautiful Pacific Northwest outdoors. On our community immersion day, we will explore Ashland, go hiking, and/or possibly attend a play at the local Shakespeare Festival. Please note participants will need to provide and have rain jackets, rain pants, and work boots for this trip to ensure comfort. Also, note that this trip is more physically laborious than the other programs due to the nature of the community projects. Participants will be encouraged to take breaks and rests as needed throughout the experience.

Note: Warm Springs is currently experiencing a water crisis. Depending on how this situation unfolds, the 2022 trip may be canceled to ensure OSU does not put additional strain on a community needing to ensure water resources are focused on local community and tribal members.

Discover various factors impacting cultural engagement, tribal policy and community wellbeing in Warm Springs by exploring elements of tribal governance, food sourcing, and community and cultural activities.  Through educational sessions and direct community projects, we will explore community gardens and sustainability, tribal government and jurisprudence, energy policy, economic development and social and cultural events that all impact the Warm Springs community.  During our trip activities will include educational sessions covering a wide range of topics related to tribal life, challenges, and solutions.  We will focus on engaging counter narratives and exploring the impact of settler colonialism upon indigenous communities. Some community engagement opportunities include working on landscaping at a senior living facility, working at a community garden, food preservation, hiking on the reservation, learning about the services and programs put on by OSU Extension for the community, and visiting the Museum at Warm Springs. The trip will also include a BBQ with OSU Extension staff and tribal members. We will staying on the Reservation of the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs, home to the Warm Springs, Wasco, and Paiute tribes after they were forcibly removed from land across the northwest. The Warm Springs Reservation is inhabited by nearly 4,000 tribal members, most of whom live in or around the town of Warm Springs.

General Program Information

Participating in Alt. Break is a significant time commitment. Participants must be available for all of the program dates and times listed below.

  • Team Meeting #1: Monday, February 21 | 5:00-7:00 pm

  • Team Meeting #2: Monday, February 28 | 5:00-7:00 pm

  • Team Meeting #3: Monday, March 7 | 5:00-7:00 pm

  • Send-Off: Friday, March 18 | 5:00-7:00 pm

  • Program Dates: Saturday, March 19th-Saturday, March 26th

  • Reorientation: Friday, April 1 | 5:00-7:00 pm

During Team Meetings, you'll get to know the other 8-10 students on your team and the two student staff co-leaders for your group. You'll learn about the community you'll be traveling to, the program itinerary, and other logistics!

The Send-Off is an exciting dinner event where all 3 teams come together the night before leaving! And at Reorientation, everyone will come back together after the traveling program to reconnect, reflect, and take what they've learned from the experience into their lives at OSU and beyond!

Please let us know if you have any extenuating circumstances that might cause you to be available for certain dates, as exceptions may be granted on a case-by-case.

Program Fee
2022 Program Fee: $50

The program fee covers the following:

  • Transportation from the OSU Corvallis campus to the program location
  • Lodging in shared/communal housing (ex. Air BnB, hostel, etc.)
  • Food: 6 dinners and food staples for preparing breakfast, lunch, and travel meals. (Participants are responsible for buying at least 1 dinner and supplementing breakfast, lunch, and travel meals with any additional groceries they want.)
Program Fee Waivers

Program fee waivers are available to cover a portion or all of the $50 program fee based on a "contribute what you can, take what you need" policy.

We charge a program fee to recover some of the cost for offering the Alt. Break program. Alt. Break is an expensive program to put on given the nature of the transportation, lodging, and food costs. The program fee also services as an added layer of commitment from participants. 

However, we are committed to equity, access, and not having financial barriers prevent anyone from participating in the Alt. Break program. The program fee should not create undue stress due to your personal circumstances. We believe that no student should be excluded from participating due to financial barriers. What's most important is that the students who are selected to participate are fully committed to the Alt. Break program.

At the end of the application, you will be able to indicate the amount of the program fee you are able to pay, and we will waive the rest, no questions asked.

Please note, if you are in a position to contribute the majority or all of the $50 fee, it will allow us to ensure we can offer program fee waivers for students who need it most into the future. 

Final payment due dates will be communicated after trip selections have been made. 


The Alt. Break experience is centered on team building, inclusivity, learning, and community. To create the most meaningful experience for yourself, your teammates, and our community partners, we ask that you apply an "opt-in" attitude throughout the entire program by upholding the following commitments.

  • Participate in ALL elements of the Alt. Break program to the best of one's ability. This includes pre and post-program meetings (Team Meetings, Send-off, & Reorientation), and the service projects, educational sessions, and activities during the traveling portion of the program (see “Time Commitment” section for required dates).
  • Support the mission of Alternative Break as a program that is focused on immersive community-engaged learning experiences centered on personal growth, leadership development, community building, and creating social change through service projects, educational sessions, reflection, and team building. This experience is NOT a vacation or sightseeing experience.
  • Be open to processing (at your own comfort level) the Alternative Break experience individually and as a group through organized reflection, journaling, and other activities.
  • Serve as a positive role model and representative of Oregon State University while on and off-campus.
  • Be respectful of diverse communities, cultural norms, and values (practice cultural humility) that you may experience in communities and/or with members of the Alt. Break team.
  • Be willing to explore diverse perspectives, opinions, and experiences. Practice empathy, deep listening, and vulnerability. Advance and center inclusivity, social consciousness, and mindfulness of others. Ultimately, expect to learn and be challenged.
  • Being an active contributor to your team and show respect for fellow team members, community partners, and populations with whom you are completing projects.
  • Embrace experiences working independently as well as with the team or group.
  • Be organized, self-motivated, adaptable, and flexible.
  • Practice self-care by taking responsibility for personal needs and wellbeing including communicating those needs to Alt. Break Leaders.
  • Adhere to OSU Student Conduct Code before, during, and after program.
  • Refrain from the use or possession of alcohol or any controlled substance/drugs for the duration of the experience.
  • Sign an Alternative Break Learning Agreement.
A note on personal wellbeing:

Alternative Breaks are often physically, emotionally, and mentally challenging as a result of the immersive nature of the program. The experience is both challenging and rewarding due to long days spent completing service projects, which often require physical labor, dialogues, and reflection activities on social issues over the course of a 5 to 6 day period. Participants are asked and encouraged to take responsibility for their wellbeing during the trip by planning ahead to prepare themselves as best as possible for the experience and making needs known to the team and Alt. Break Leaders.

⚠️ Required Protocols

To participate in the 2022 Alt. Break program, you will be required to do ALL of the following

  1. Verify that you are COVID-19 fully vaccinated before program departure on Saturday, March 19, 2022. A negative test result alone will NOT be sufficient to participate in the program as a result of vaccine requirements of several community partner organizations.
    • Your COVID-19 vaccination status will be checked and verified through records on file at Student Health Services as part of OSU’s Vaccination Program.
    • Note: This policy is in place because some of the community partners and non-profit organizations we work with on the program require all volunteers to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination and will not accept a negative test result.
    • If accessibility accommodations are needed in order to participate in the program, please contact us at [email protected] or 541-737-3041.
  2. Be in compliance with OSU’s Vaccination Program before program departure on Saturday, March 19, 2022.
    • A note on booster shots: Receiving boosters is now part of OSU’s Vaccination Program Requirement. More information from OSU is forthcoming about the booster requirement, including timelines, methods for compliance and how to upload information. At this point, please prioritize obtaining a booster shot when eligible.
    • Some community partners may require showing proof of both being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and being “up to date” with COVID-19 vaccination or having a COVID-19 booster. For this reason, we strongly encourage all participants to receive their COVID-19 booster by March 18, 2022 in order to be able to participate in all of the program’s activities and the full itinerary.
    • Information on how to comply with the OSU’s new booster requirement will be shared with students who are selected to participate in the Alt. Break program.
  3. Participation in Alternative Break means one must be an active and responsible participant in supporting individual and group wellbeing as well as in reducing the spread of COVID-19 and must follow and fully comply with OSU’s current COVID-19 Safety & Success Policy as well as any local/state mandates, regulations, and restrictions in order to prioritize the safety and well-being of all participants, staff members, and community partners.
    • Additionally, certain parts of the 2022 Alt. Break program may involve adhering to local COVID-19 policies and protocols that are different than OSU’s Vaccination Program Requirement. Therefore, to participate, students shall abide by any additional requirements in effect at the time of the program on March 19-26, 2022.
    • Community partner organizations may have unique program or site requirements or policies related to COVID-19. Participants are expected to follow and comply with the requirements of host organizations related to measures such as masking and physical distancing.
  4. Before the program: take a free COVID-19 PCR test and receive the result before program departure on Saturday, March 19, 2022 (or verify a positive COVID-19 case within the past 90 days). You can find on-campus testing sites on OSU’s COVID Testing Information webpage.
    •  Alternative Break program participants are forming a “pod” with their travel teams. For this reason, participants are expected to take a free PCR test on campus before travel to reduce possible COVID-19 spread and support group safety and wellbeing (or verify a positive COVID-19 case within the past 90 days). 
    • After testing, participants should limit opportunities for possible infection before departure. 
    • If you receive a positive test result before program departure, we ask that you remove yourself from the program, and follow OSU's positive case notification protocols and OSU’s isolation & quarantine guidance, or the most current protocols and guidance in effect at the time of the program.
    • If you receive a positive test result and remove yourself from the program prior to departure, you will receive a reimbursement for the full Alt. Break program fee ($50.00).
  5. During the program: Continue adhering to OSU’s current COVID-19 Safety & Success Policy including:
    • Self-screen for symptoms daily and report any symptoms of COVID-19 to an Alt. Break Leader as soon as you become aware of the symptoms.
    • Rapid antigen tests will be made available for participants’ use should anyone become ill during travel.

Protocols for handling potential positive COVID-19 cases during the program will be shared with students who are accepted into the program.

If you have any questions about these required or recommended protocols, please contact us at [email protected] or 541-737-3041.

  • Must be a currently enrolled OSU student at the Corvallis campus
  • Must be in good university standing (academic and student conduct)

If you have extenuating, unexpected medical, academic, or family/personal circumstances that are out of your control and need to cancel your participants, you may be reimbursed for any expenses that Community Engagement & Leadership can recover. The emergency must arise before the program starts to receive any refund. Students will be asked to provide a signed request for any partial refund that summarizes the extenuating circumstances.

Please communicate any need to cancel as soon as possible so we can work with you. If you or Community Engagement & Leadership is able to identify a replacement participant that meets trip criteria, a full refund may be possible.

If accessibility accommodations are needed in order to participate in the program, please contact us at [email protected] or 541-737-3041.

If contact us as soon as possible and preferably no less than one month in advance of the program dates due to the immersive nature of the experience.

The Alternative Break program at Oregon State University dates back to 2010. Site locations largely developed out of personal connections and student leader interests in the early years to establish programs in Yakima, Washington (established 2010) and San Francisco, California (established 2012). Later program locations (Ashland/southern Oregon and Warm Springs, Oregon established 2013) were developed with a desire to cultivate deeper connections within the state of Oregon, meeting known community need, and maintain sites within driving distance of the OSU Corvallis campus. The Warm Springs program was created with the specific intent to maximize the community knowledge and connections within OSU Extension Services across the state and facilitate student exposure to the impact and work of Extension Services. Program expansion is planned moving forward. Additional program sites will be selected and developed in ways that balance diversifying the social issues/causes addressed and examined within the program and existing relationships between the community and OSU.