Owl Breaks

What is Owl Breaks?

Owl Breaks (formerly known as Alternative Spring Break) is an opportunity to spend your Course/Semester Break, serving a community in need. You will travel with other students and staff members to a city within and outside of Florida where you will immerse yourself in service projects and learn about a particular social issue affecting that community.

Owl Breaks will be one of the best weeks of your life – a chance to dedicate an entire week to serving others and learning about a new community. It's an opportunity to make new friends and come back with a new perspective on a complex issue.

Why is Owl Breaks considered an "alternative" break?

Owl Breaks trips are a week "on" instead of a week "off" – you will have the incredible opportunity to use your break from courses to pursue a love of service and an interest in a particular social issue. Owl Breaks are also substance (drug and alcohol) free, offering students an alternative to the more traditional course (winter, spring, summer) breaks.

What are the benefits of going on an Owl Breaks Trip?

  • Use your course/semester break to make a difference
  • Make new long-lasting friendships
  • Learn about a social issue by working alongside those directly affected
  • Build leadership skills and future involvement opportunities
  • Travel to a new and interesting city or location
  • Immerse yourself in a new culture and lifestyle
  • Have fun!
  • Give back!

What is expected of me?

  • Participants will be expected to pass a conduct check administered through the FAU Dean of Student's Office 
  • Have at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA
  • Attend all trip orientation meetings
  • Be an active participant in the Owl Breaks experience, including: strong and direct service, orientation/education, training, reflection, reorientation, commitment to diversity.
  • All Owl Breaks experiences are Alcohol and Other Drug Free
  •  In keeping with our principle of "Simple Living", we utilize a $5 per person per day meal guideline to so that we are also able to learn what it's like to truly experience the community in which we are serving.


Owl Breaks Locations

FAU's Owl Breaks Spring Break program offers students the opportunity to travel during Spring Break to make a change through direct volunteer work. Each Owl Break trip focuses on a specific social issue, where students are immersed in the local culture, make a difference, and create memories, friendships, and an increased awareness of community.

Owl Breaks Summer 2018 

Disaster Relief in Puerto Rico - May 6-12 

At 5:50 a.m. on September 20th, Hurricane Maria became the strongest hurricane to make landfall in Puerto Rico since 1928 with winds of 155 mph. To date, thousands of people across the island still do not have power or drinkable water. However, the rebuilding process in Puerto Rico is continuing to take shape. Since the hurricane, FAU has partnered with Palm Beach County Cares to aid in the recovery effort that has included supply drives during days of service. From May 5-12, FAU will be hosting an Owl Break trip to help in the recovery effort.  

Site Leaders: Flavia Patino-Paul and Michael Shapiro


Cost: approximately $300-$400 due by April 7 (inclusive of airfare, lodging, meals, and transportation)


Spring Break 2018 (Mar. 3-10, 2018)

Children's Health Awareness (Pensacola, FL)

Healthy children grow to be healthy adults, and as quoted by the site leaders for this trip, "I believe that being physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy is what everyone strives to obtain. Unfortunately some kids aren't able to by physically, mentally, or even  emotionally healthy due to experiences in life". 

Site Leaders: Christine Luong and Kiara Whiting

Human Trafficking and Youth Empowerment (Clearwater, FL) 

According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), there are 21.3 million documented refugees in the world, half of whom are under the age of 18. As quoted by the site leaders for the trip, "Human Rights should not be a privilege, but a right, and it should belong to every person regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or region of origin".

Site Leaders: Taylor Morrison and Nathalie Joissaint 

Arts and Homelessness Awareness (Miami, FL)

With the rising cost of living in South Florida, and changes in resources available for low-income people and families, according to a recent article in the Miami Herald: the number of both sheltered and unsheltered homeless is up 2% to be 4,235 in Miami-Dade County. The projects on this trip will include working with a variety of community partners that serve to address the needs of the homeless population.

Site Leaders: Lisa Victor and Meghan Morrison 

Community Development (Roanoke, VA)

Many children from disadvantaged areas suffer from low self- esteem, anxiety and depression. We can create change and improve the quality of life in poverty stricken communities through service, mentorship and education. According to Virginia.gov, "Poverty has increased in Virginia within the last year by 11%." The US Census Bureau according to Fred.stlouisfed.org states that 5,200 persons between the ages of 5-17 live in poverty in Roanoke, VA.  The goal of this trip is mentor and guide youth in the Roanoke, VA area.  

Site Leaders: Antonia Front and Natasha Arnaud 

Owl Breaks Fall 2017

Food Insecurity in Fort Myers, FL – November 22-26

In the United States, a little over 12 percent of the population is considered food insecure. The issue of food insecurity is important because having access to quality food should not be a privilege. Furthermore, in Fort Myers, and Lee County, approximately 13.6% of the population or 90,420 people are considered food insecure. More and more families are being faced with choosing between rent or food due to Florida's rising housing costs. Although the Fort Myers area has an extensive network of resources, their pantries are almost always at capacity, an issue compounded by the foreclosure crisis of 2008. An Owl Breaks trip to Fort Myers would educate students about the types of resources that the region has to help and gain a new perspective into the lives of people and families that are considered food insecure. 

On this trip, we had 7 participants travel to the Fort Myers area to help Feeding the 5000 and Community Cooperative provide a Thanksgiving meal for people that are less fortunate. Participants shared that they packaged meals for over 6,000 people in need in the Greater Fort Myers area. 

Site Leaders: Christina Giralt and Elishama Petion

Disaster Relief in the Florida Keys, and Key West, FL – December 16-22

At 9:10 a.m. on September 10th, Hurricane Irma made landfall at Cudjoe Key, in the Lower Florida Keys. In the Keys alone, severe flooding took place in Key West, Sugarloaf Key, Summerland Key, Ramrod Key, Little Torch Key, Big Pine Key, and Marathon. The islands are now in a stage of rebuilding, and the focus of this trip will be to help our neighbors to the south continue on the road to getting back to normal. While there are a variety of organizations in the Keys, there is a definite need to have volunteers assist with the rebuilding effort.

For the Winter Break trip, 14 participants traveled to the Florida Keys to work with a variety of agencies that are directed at helping provide ongoing disaster relief to the people and animals that call the Keys home. The community partners that the participants worked with, include: Big Pine Key National Key Deer PreserveSt. Mary's Soup KitchenReef Relief, and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

Site Leaders: Malcolm Brown and David Quintana


 Last Modified 4/23/18