CAS Trips’ mission has always been to make a genuine, sustainable impact through transformative cross-cultural experiences. At the heart of this are our experiential learning activities which are crafted to offer long-term benefits to the communities and environments in which we operate, as well as engaging Service opportunities for students.
On our trips, we aim to both make a difference while we are there and build relationships that will allow the reciprocal benefits to continue long after the students have returned home. Today, we would like to share some of our environmental service success stories and provide a more complete picture of what you can expect the role of sustainability to play when you travel with CAS Trips.
Our unique approach to sustainability and community building
In creating every one of our CAS Trips, we comprehensively research the destination, identifying key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that communities are striving to achieve. We contact and nurture links with grassroots charities and Non-Governmental Organizations who are working to tackle specific goals. We use the 17 UN SDGs to inspire and guide the actions we focus on in our programs, and everywhere CAS Trips goes—we aim to create a more significant global impact through local efforts.
Here are some of the experiences we have offered in the past, including reflections from student participants.
Beach cleanups across Europe allow students to appreciate Life Below Water
“We got to discover and appreciate our own country in a whole different way. We had an authentic experience and learned from the locals.”
UN SGD 14, Life Below Water, has been a central focus of several of our trips. We understand that the world’s oceans – their temperature, chemistry, currents, and life – drive global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind. Yet even those living within proximity to the coastline can easily forget about the need to protect this vital resource.
Due to the unique context from which they emerged, most of our Close To Home Trips took place away from major cities, with several schools having the opportunity to take their trips to islands or the coastline. From the Netherlands to Croatia, students have had the opportunity to learn from local nonprofits about the marine ecosystem and assist in beach clean-ups and other preservation activities.
Invasive species removal in Austria honors the local traditions and Life on Land
“The service we did helping the park rangers was incredibly rewarding and made me appreciate my country. We learned a lot, and it was a great bonding experience because we all had to work together and help each other out.”
Of course, human life depends on the earth as much as the ocean for our sustenance and livelihoods. UN SDG 15, Life on Land, is also central to many activities we run. Plant life provides 80 percent of the human diet, and we rely on agriculture as an essential economic resource. For the past two years, we have partnered with rangers from Naturpark Dobratsch near Villach, Austria, to remove an invasive plant species. A wheelchair-accessible activity, all participants enjoyed getting their hands dirty, working together, and cultivating a deeper appreciation for the land that sustains them.
Carrot harvesting provides the opportunity to reflect on habits of Consumption and Production
“While harvesting the vegetables, we began talking about how much we were enjoying it and how we would love to make it a regular thing. We were able to appreciate the hard work that goes into the food we eat every day.”
Informed by the 12th UN SDG, Consumption and Production, we understand that achieving economic growth and sustainable development requires urgent changes in how we produce and consume goods and resources.
We want all of our trips to be powered by efficient management of our shared natural resources and inspire students to reduce waste while learning more about sustainable consumption patterns. As such, a favorite service-learning activity for CAS Trips is to arrange to spend time at local community gardens in many of our destinations. For example, during Birkerød Gymnasium’s trip on Samsø Island, the students visited Yduns Have Samsø and had a blast harvesting carrots and beets and even tasting some of the produce they had just pulled from the ground.
Tree planting in Portugal engages students directly in Climate Action
“I got to see my country in a new light and see what people in different areas value. This gave me a new perspective on the place I live and the need to protect it.”
UN SDG 13, Climate Action, is central and needs to be prioritized. Every country is now experiencing the drastic effects of climate change, and global warming is causing long-lasting changes to our climate system.
We understand that supporting vulnerable regions will directly contribute not only to Goal 13 but also to the other SDGs. One of our environmental service initiatives that encompasses this is the tree planting activity we offer in Portugal’s Serra da Estrela region. Students actively participate in climate action while experiencing local traditions and connecting to the natural environment.
We cooperate with a local herbalist and permaculturalist to clear the land of harmful invasive species and then plant a variety of trees that are native to the area. Students also prepare natural treatments for scratches and rashes using the plants and were given time to reflect on their relationship with the natural world.
As you can see, the possibilities for incorporating meaningful environmental service activities into your CAS Trip are endless! These are just a few examples of the many ways we are mobilizing our reinvigorated sustainability policy and helping to inspire future changemakers. You can learn more here about the places we visit, check out of Close to Home program, or get in touch with our team directly to discuss how CAS Trips can help give your students access to an array of thought-provoking environmental service opportunities.