Students in the woods
Students and leaders of the Alternative Spring Break took hikes around Door County, including one around Bjorklunden with local master naturalist, Jane Whitney.

*submitted by Sue Pappas

This year Lawrence University (LU) came up with a brand-new plan for students who were at loose ends during their March 18-22 spring break. Having completed their final exams and papers, the students definitely needed a break from the Appleton campus. While some classmates traveled to warmer climates with sunny beaches or back home to family, these 20 students found that traveling 100 miles north to LU’s northern campus, Björklunden, was a perfect getaway.

The week explored themes of service, sustainability, and stewardship. It provided experiences to learn about the unique ecology and geology of Door County while actively contributing to the long legacy of environmental protection in the area. With chances to both enjoy the campus and visit local villages, the experience included plenty of fun and relaxation as well.

The students volunteered at the Ridges transplanting trees from the Range Light corridor and learning about the sensitive ecosystem there. They also worked with the Door County Climate Change Coalition to check the health of hundreds of recently transplanted trees and plant tamarack trees at Mud Lake Preserve. At the centerpiece of their efforts was both planting the conceptual and actual seeds for The Butterfly Fields – a new trail area and pollinator habitat adjacent to Björklunden’s solar array.

The week also included visits to Baileys Harbor and Sister Bay, dining at some popular local restaurants, and visits to shops. Here’s what some students had to say:

students clear debris between the Baileys Harbor Range Lights
(Above) Students participating in the Alternative Spring Break help clear the corridor between the Baileys Harbor Range Lights.
a group of people spreading seeds around a solar field
Tom McKenzie, Bjorklunden's director (front, left), joins students on the Alternative Spring Break to seed the field around the solar panel array for the new butterfly garden.
  • “I liked getting off campus and interacting with the local community, as well as learning about the topography of the area.”
  • “The whole trip was super fun and interesting and well-balanced in term of activities vs free time. It was really cool to be able to meet and work with Tom [McKenzie] on improving Björklunden and it felt meaningful to share ideas about the butterfly habitat and put work into cleaning the area and sowing the wildflower seeds. The day at Baileys Harbor and Sister Bay was very interesting and fun and I appreciated the opportunity to explore Door County beyond Björklunden.”
  • “I hope this can become a tradition for years to come and I am excited to see how our work at Bjork makes a positive contribution to its future.”
  • “I greatly enjoyed the experience and look forward to doing it again.”

Luckily, the weather cooperated. The wildflower seeds were sown across The Butterfly Field area just before the snow. The students returned to Appleton with a wonderful sense of accomplishment!