Vanderbilt & Appalachian State Students Spend Alternative Spring Break Volunteering at The Elephant Sanctuary


MARCH 21, 2024

Hohenwald, TN - Spring coincides with the arrival of Alternative Spring Break groups of college students at The Elephant Sanctuary. Rather than spending their spring breaks on a more traditional vacation, these students choose to dedicate their time away to donating service hours and learning about the needs of elephants and The Sanctuary's mission. In March, 11 students from North Carolina’s Appalachian State University and eight students from Tennessee’s own Vanderbilt University spent a week working alongside The Sanctuary Staff, gaining insights to share with their campus communities. Both institutions have been sending volunteers to The Sanctuary during spring break for over a decade. "We've had an amazing time volunteering with The Elephant Sanctuary and have learned so much about what The Sanctuary does for elephants and environmental conservation. This week has definitely been a one-of-a-kind experience,” says Angela, Vanderbilt’s Alternative Spring Break Student Leader.

These hard workers did everything from general spring cleaning of The Sanctuary grounds, creating enrichment for the elephants, constructing compost bins, landscaping, and learning about potential career pathways in animal care and conservation education.

In addition, the students dedicated volunteer hours to High Forest Humane Society and Hope Hohenwald Inc., whose mission is to improve the quality of life in their community by providing opportunities for children, youth, and families. Tonya Woodward, HOPE Hohenwald’s CEO, says the organization was honored to host such a wonderful group of students. “Their volunteer work not only helped further our mission in our community but also an orphanage in Liberia. We are grateful for the Elephant Sanctuary for including Hope Hohenwald Inc. in their itinerary.”

The Elephant Sanctuary looks forward to hosting even more student volunteers later this year.


About The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee

Located on 3,060 acres in Hohenwald, Tennessee, The Elephant Sanctuary is the nation’s largest natural-habitat refuge developed specifically for Asian and African elephants. Founded in 1995, The Sanctuary has provided 33 elephants with individualized care, the companionship of a herd, and the opportunity to live out their lives in a safe haven dedicated to their well-being. The Sanctuary is licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and has been dually recognized through accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. The Elephant Sanctuary is currently home to 12 elephant residents.

To learn more about The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, please visit our website at We welcome you to stay engaged and observe the elephants via our live-streaming EleCams at, and connect with us via social media.

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