Miner Challenge (MC) is a student-led alternative break program hosted every year at Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) that focuses on social justice and community service. Participants get the experience of immersing themselves in volunteer opportunities across the United States and internationally. Miner Challenge takes place during Missouri S&T’s spring break. MC participants work with a small team throughout the year while prepping for their specific trip, bonding with their team, gaining awareness of social issues, and working to improve communities. Each team has a Trip Leader, a volunteer student leader, who develops their trip and guides their team through the volunteer experience. The Miner Challenge organization states that it offers students “an opportunity to meet new people, have new experiences, and do volunteer work. It provides a great way to get involved on campus, learn about oneself, travel, volunteer, and make new friends.” The Miner Challenge program began in 2008 with the first trip to Boone, North Carolina. Those students worked with Western Youth Network and Habitat for Humanity. The program has substantially grown and developed since then.
Miner Challenge receives no university funding and self-sustains through fundraisers and donations. The student-led fundraisers include selling homemade cookie dough and chocolate covered strawberries/oreos as well as a letter writing campaign. These fundraisers, and the participation fees, fund the entire program. Program participants are expected to participate in all of them. According to Miner Challenge, “the typical domestic trip for 12 students costs about $5,000 and includes transportation, food, housing, group activities, and the service experience. Participants pay a low fee of $300 for the experience and work together to raise funds to make the program and its mission possible.” The funds raised by the participants also go towards scholarships that can be provided to students who want to participate and make a difference, but may not have the financial resources. Unfortunately, the 2020 Miner Challenge trips were cancelled due to COVID-19. The 2020 trips were going to include Community and Infrastructure Development in Costa Rica, Disaster Recovery in New Orleans, Louisiana, Environmental Conservation in Asheville, North Carolina, helping Hunger and Homelessness in Atlanta, Georgia, and helping Immigration and Youth in Austin, Texas. The funds and donations raised last year will now be going towards this year’s trips.
Beginning in October 2020, this year’s participants will attend weekly team meetings to explore one of the following five topics: Indigenous Nations, Wildlife Conservation, Hunger and Homelessness, Environmental Conservation, or Disaster Relief. The Miner Challenge trip leaders have been working hard to prepare material to educate participants on the topics and promote a healthy discussion between students. The program will run from the Fall 2020 to the Spring 2021 semester while preparing participants for Spring Break 2021, where the teams will disperse across the nation and serve communities for five days.
To learn more about Miner Challenge, visit minerchallenge.mst.edu. The program’s applications close soon on September 23rd, and the applications can be found on https://mst.campuslabs.com/engage/organization/minerchallenge.
Article by: Alyssa Crum
Photo credit: https://involvement.mst.edu/minerchallenge/