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"One of the goals of higher education is to challenge former ways of thinking and introduce new perspectives, all in the hopes of creating a more intelligent, objective and critical graduate. As important as intellectualizing in an 'ivory tower' atmosphere is, it can never replace first hand experience and witnessing of the nation (and the world for that matter) around us."

And so begins the Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD) philosophical statement with regard to its alternative break program. WUD, which is an extension of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, is not alone in its mission to offer up viable, enriching alternatives to spring break madness. The 1990s has seen a rise in such programs being run out of universities throughout the U.S., and this is in large part due to the efforts of the Break Away organization, which has set itself up as somewhat of an infrastructure, coordinating these experiential based treks that put students into field contact with such issues as the environment, homelessness, hunger, poverty, racism, and so forth.

Break Away - a nonprofit corporation founded in 1991 that runs excursions not only throughout the U.S. but internationally - is a resource and vehicle for schools that are interested in setting up alternative break programs, providing access to a catalog of potential sites, membership and subsequent privileges, networking opportunities, special events, training, etc. And since the spring break tradition is strongly connected to the state of Florida, there are numerous destinations in the Sunshine State, each affording a unique opportunity to contribute something meaningful, but not without its own opportunities for fun, sun and adventure.

Students who choose to venture to Florida's beautiful Myakka River State Park, located in Sarasota, will take up the cause of the environment, working on "art, construction, painting, photography, re-establishment of plants, trail upkeep, video production, compile catalogs," etc. Such endeavors, coordinated through the Myakka Conservancy, would contribute to such worthy goals as preserving the water's quality, protecting the free flowing nature of the river, including acquisition of privately owned land to keep it public, and so forth, through educational campaigns and direct, hands-on involvement. And participating students would of course benefit not only through their invaluable contribution to the project, but through access to this fantastic landscape, in its pristine beauty.

Use Absolutely Florida to research some of the many wondrous locations throughout this extraordinary and multifaceted state, and as your resource for finding an alternative destination for your own unique and memorable spring break.

Other Florida State Parks that play host to such programs, and visiting teams of students, include Oscar Scherer, which is located in Osprey, Lake Manatee located in Bradenton, Cayo Costa in Boca Grande, Collier-Seminole in Naples, and Delnor-Wiggins Pass also located in Naples. Cayo Costa is a popular choice, with its beaches, mangrove swamps, pine forests, and access to renowned tarpon fishing opportunities. Duties for those visiting the Park might include those associated with resource management, maintenance, or visitor services. Each of these park locations offers of its own unique beauty, but there is a plethora of other opportunities that await the alternative break adventurer in the state of Florida.

The Lighthouse Mission of Orlando offers an urban setting where students can focus on such issues as homelessness, hunger and low income housing. Tasks performed at the site include grounds and house cleaning, painting, remodeling, and so forth. And like the experience of may alternative break participants that spend their time in a city, evenings are typically open, and so are the possibilities. Other Florida destinations and hosts include the YWCA of Jacksonville, the Housing Authority of Winter Park, the Anthony House, the Johnson-Brinson Project, People with AIDS of Dade County, and Seniors First. There are various levels of housing and so forth available for these trips. For a complete list of sites, go the Break Away Internet site . You can order a print copy of Break Away's SiteBank catalog for $20, s/h included, by snail-mail through BREAKAWAY, the Alternative Break Connection, Box 6026, Station B, Nashville, TN 37235. Or by calling 615.343.0385.

Once internationally associated with annual images of herds of loaded teenagers and post-adolescents, Fort Lauderdale has legislatively negated itself from the spring break market, leaving Florida leaders Daytona Beach and Panama City Beach to set new standards. For those who will be traveling to either one of these two fine locations for the carnivalesque week of escape, there are alternatives to the beach across the street and the nearby roadhouse. Both cities are unique, and inhabit an intriguing landscape of possibilities for the curious adventurer to seek out and possibly become enlightened by or enchanted with.

The Museum of Arts & Sciences
A science and Florida history museum and planetarium, The Museum of Arts & Sciences hosts exhibitions, and features selections from its permanent collection, and works include paintings from the 18th-20th centuries; American fine and decorative arts from 1640-1920; European paintings; Oriental art featuring Chinese art along with Indian and Persian miniature painting; art from African, Cuban, Pre-Columbian and Native American cultures.
1040 Museum Boulevard, Daytona Beach, Florida 32114 904/255-0285. Admission. Hours: Tuesday through Friday, noon to 4pm; Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5pm.

Southeast Museum of Photography
The only museum in the southeast entirely devoted to the exquisite art of photography. Daytona Beach Community College, Bldg. 37, 1200 International Speedway Boulevard, Daytona Beach, Florida 32114 904/ 254-4475. Free. Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 10am to 3pm, & 5pm to 7pm; Saturday and Sunday, 1pm to 4pm.

Harvey W. Lee Jr. Memorial Gallery
Mary McLeod Bethune Fine Arts Center
A component of the Mary McLeod Bethune Fine Arts Center, a $22 million educational and cultural complex, the Lee Gallery exhibits work of exceptional artists throughout the Southeast and Central Florida. Local artists are also frequently featured. A permanent collection of African art is housed in a second gallery. Tours are available. Bethune-Cookman College
151 Lincoln Street
Daytona Beach, FL 32114
904/255-1401 x522
Hours: Monday through Friday, 9:30am to noon, & 1pm to 4 pm.

Art League of Daytona Beach
Founded in 1932, and designed by famed architect Francis Walton, the Art League offers classes five days a week in all disciplines. It's two galleries feature exhibits that change monthly. The League presents bi-monthly demonstrations and specialized national workshops. 433 S. Palmetto Avenue, Daytona Beach, Florida 32114 (904) 258-3856. Free. Hours: 1pm to 4pm. Closed Monday.

The Casements
The former winter home of John D. Rockefeller , and now on the national Register of Historic Places, The Casements serves as a cultural center for Ormond Beach with creative experiences for all ages with classes, exhibits, events, gift shop and meeting spaces. Guided tours available. 25 Riverside Drive, Ormond Beach, Florida 32176
(904) 676-3216
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 9 to 9; Friday, 9am to 5pm: Saturday, 9am to noon.

Sugar Mill Botanical Gardens
Self-guided tours with maps are available to assist visitors in locating the main features of the gardens, including a display of local fossils dating back at least 10,000 years, ruins of the English Sugar Mill originally built in 1830 and four concrete dinosaurs remaining from when the gardens were known as "Bongoland" in the late 40s. 950 Old Sugar Mill Road, Port Orange, Florida.
Directions: Take U.S. 1 to Herbert Street, turn west, drive one mile and follow signs. Open daily dawn to dusk. Free admission and parking. Donations accepted.

Halifax Historical Society Museum
The museum features Daytona Beach historical exhibits. 252 South Beach Street, Daytona Beach. Florida 32214 904/255-6976
Hours: 10am to 4pm, Tuesday through Saturday. Admission: $3; children 12 and younger $1; members free. Free admission Saturdays.

Ponce de Leon Lighthouse
This scenic picnic spot provides a panoramic view of the beaches and inlet from the century-old working lighthouse. The spacious grounds and historic buildings house a collection of Lighthouse Service artifacts, a mariner's museum, international lighthouse photo gallery, turn of the century lighthouse keeper's house, the restored Cape Canaveral 18 foot first order lens, and the F.D. Russell wooden tug boat. Self-guided tours of the lighthouse and its museum are available. 4931 S. Peninsula Drive, Ponce Inlet, Florida 32127
Hours: 10am to 8pm. $4 admission.

Art in Public Places
What follows is a complete list for Art in Public Places, Volusia County. And a self-guided tour should be replete with enlightening moments and fantastic photo ops.

5th District Court of Appeals
300 S. Beach Street, Daytona Beach.
Houses twenty works by Central Florida artists, 1981.

State of Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services
210 North Palmetto Avenue, Daytona Beach.
Features an outdoor sculpture by Bob Fetty, 1991.

Department of Transportation Building
713 S. Woodland Boulevard, DeLand.
Features a fountain sculpture by David Davis, 1993

Highway Patrol District Office
U.S. Hwy 92, DeLand.
Houses a Dee Smith painting, 1995.

Department of Transportation Construction Office
915 S. Clyde Morris Boulevard, Daytona Beach.
Features a variety of prints by Carl Fehling, 1995

County Administration Center
123 West Indiana Boulevard, DeLand.
"Volusia Gaia", 1990, sculpture by Paul Fullerton

Daytona International Airport Terminal
189 Midway Avenue (off Int'l Speedway Blvd), Daytona Beach. Features a collection of works by twenty artists.

VOTRAN Transfer Plaza
Corner of Palmetto Ave & Bethune Boulevard, Daytona Beach.
"Cool" sculpture by Dan Gunderson.

Port Orange Public Library
1000 City Center Circle, Port Orange.
Elsie Shaw sculpture, 1996.

Deltona Public Library
2150 Eustice Avenue, Deltona.
Wood sculpture by Bob Kopec and bronze sculpture by Brian Owens, 1996.

Ormond Beach Public Library and City Hall
30 South Beach Street, Ormond.
"Surface Bound" sculpture by Paul Baliker

Other area attractions to consider include Cassadaga a spiritualist center featuring mediums and tarot card readers; Turtle Mound, an ancient Indian burial mound that is actually the highest point on the Volusia County coastline; Blue Spring State Park, home to the Manatee; Tomoka State Park; DeLeon Springs State Recreation area, featuring natural springs discovered by Ponce DeLeon in 1513; some of the many ferneries in this the fern growing capital of the world; and of course the Birthplace of Speed Auto Museum.

the Visual Arts Center of northwest Florida
An art center in the heart of downtown Panama City that has a permanent collection of works by local artists, predominantly from Northwest Florida, and regularly hosts various exhibitions. Classes and workshops are available. 19 East Fourth Street, Panama City, Florida 32401
904/769-4451. Free.
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 9am to 4pm; Thursday, 9am to 8pm; Closed Sunday and Monday.

The Junior Museum of Bay County
A museum whose mission is to "inspire and educate children by providing interactive exhibits and programs focusing on science, history and culture." Grown up kids are welcome.
1731 Jenks Avenue, Panama City Beach, Florida 32405 Hours: Monday through Friday, 9am to 4:30pm; Saturday, 10am to 4pm; Closed Sunday.

Museum of Man in the Sea
Owned by the Institute of Diving and managed by the Panama City Marine Institute, this one of kind museum houses relics from the first days of scuba diving and underwater exploration as well as treasures recovered from shipwrecks. Historical displays trace man's fascination with the underwater world dating back to 1500. Divers are shown involved in marine life sciences, underwater exploration, marine salvage and construction, oceanography and underwater archaeology. Exhibits include artifacts from the Atocha as well as from the fleet that sank of Ft. Pierce in 1715. Hours: Daily from 9am to 5pm.

The Kaleidoscope Theater
Located in nearby Lynn Haven, the Kaleidoscope has featured such performances as The sound of Music, Neil Simon's Rumors, A Christmas Carol, a special children's theatre presentation entitled I Won't Take a Bath, and God's Favorite. For information and ticket reservations call 904/256-3226.

Dead Lakes State Recreation Area
When sand bars created by the current of the Apalachiacola River blocked the Chipola River, trapped waters killed off thousands of trees in the floodplain, and thus this beautiful park was conferred its unusual name. But Dead Lakes is somewhat of a study in contrast, as present day conditions reflect nothing of its history. Boating, camping, fishing and nature study all await anyone who wishes to venture there. Open from 8am until sundown 365 days a year. P.O. Box 989, Wewahitchka, Florida 32465. 904/639-2702. Directions: Dead Lakes is located one mile north of Wewahitchka off S.R. 71.

Other area attractions to consider include Falling Waters State Park; Florida Caverns State Park; Shell Island; and St. Joseph Peninsula.

Gay Spring Break, with festivities held in world renowned Miami area South Beach, offers itself as an alternative to the traditionally "heterosexist" mainstream sites. This event is geared specifically toward gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) college students. GLBT students can come together, and "celebrate who they are."
For more information, contact Windmeyer, of Just Go Girl Entertainment, via e-mail: just go@ix.netcom.com. Tour packages are available, which include accommodations at The Seville on Miami Beach. Call 800/648-4849 x252, and ask for Duane.