Mariah Smith’s Alternative Spring Break with Greening Forward

Greening Forward
4 min readApr 9, 2024


This article is a post that comes from Greening Forward’s legacy blog. It was originally written on March 15, 2012.

Editor’s Note: This reflective blog post is a part of series of blogs written by students from Grand Valley State University who spent their Spring Break volunteering with Greening Forward in Atlanta, Georgia from March 3–10.


We arrived Saturday night on the Rancho Alegre Farm. That Sunday we started volunteering on the farm. I went shopping for food and took half of our group with me. The other half stayed on the farm and did different tasks. It was nice seeing the Dacula area in the daylight. When we arrived back at the farm from shopping, I had a chance to volunteer on the farm. But there was not much work left to be done. Consequently, we decided to go downtown Atlanta. Sadly a lot of the shops were closed because it was Sunday. However, we still found something to do. We went to Atlantic Station and it was very big. I really like the area and I went to Target. This was the biggest Target I had ever seen. The Atlantic Station had some really cool stores.


Monday we did some tasks on the farm but not for very long. I moved wood and picked up trash. That day we went to Mill Creek High School to meet the Key Club. It was a very big high school — perhaps the biggest I have ever seen. The teacher we meet was really nice. I wish I had him in high school. We introduced the Alternative Break program to the students.


Tuesday was the first day we went to a school to volunteer. We had a nice day at Sylvan Middle School. I helped in the garden at the school with some students. This was one of my favorite places because the teachers and staff were very nice and the students had a lot of energy. I liked that they had a compost area. Afterward, we went to a local urban garden where we met Anthony. He was awesome and I learned so much important information about creating an organic garden and I got some awesome seeds. Later that day was turned to the farm to do more work.


We came back to Mill Creek on Wednesday. I helped Mrs. Zimmer organize college information. Then we met Charles. Charles seemed like a well-spoken young man. He was really nice and excited to meet us. I could tell that he will go far in life and I was happy to meet him. After our meeting, we had lunch and went to pick up trash by the Texaco. The trash pick-up was interesting we found and saw a lot of interesting things. After that, we went to Little Mulberry Park and met the mayor of Dacula, Jimmy Wilbanks, which was very cool. The park was big and pretty. Then we meet someone else who seems like a really cool person and I wish I could have talked to her more. She had awesome ideas. Later that night we had dinner which was provided by Greening Forward. It was a full day and I was happy about it.


Thursday we started off at the farm where we did more work for the farm. Then we picked up Charles from school and went to our next volunteer site, Sweetwater Middle School. This was Charles’s middle school. It was a nice school. I liked the students. In fact, as soon as I came to one of the students gave me a big hug. It also was really nice getting to know Charles a little better.


Friday was a great day. We went to a middle school to volunteer that day. The kids were nice and wanted to learn about college. Then, we met Charles at the best place on earth — a fro-yo shop called Menchie’s. I only had fro-yo once and I didn’t only just like it but I loved this place. We played a lot of awesome games in the car on the way to Lake Lanier. Charles was very energetic and excited about the games which made me happy to watch. I felt him come out of his shell that day. The lake was beautiful and I loved that red clay sand. Afterward, we went to the waterfalls which were amazing. The way up the stairs was hard but it was certainly worth it in the end. I loved all the nature we got to see.


Saturday we made our farewells and went back to Michigan.



Greening Forward

Greening Forward establishes, engages, and empowers a diverse global movement of young people for the protection of the environment.