Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) announced more than 800 high school students fulfilled their "Tennessee Promise" community service requirements at Tennessee State Parks on June 24, a nearly 40 percent increase over 2016.
"Community service is an essential piece to Tennessee Promise because it gives students the opportunity to give back to the state and they become invested in the program," Haslam said. "Connecting young people to meaningful outdoor experiences gives them a greater sense of place and ownership in our parks system and our state while earning their way to college."
Outgoing high school seniors helped mulch flower beds, build trails, paint signs, install playground equipment and worked on various other projects to help beautify nearly all 56 Tennessee State Parks on "Tennessee Promise Saturday" - an annual volunteer event organized by the parks system. Tennessee State Parks saw its biggest turnout since the program began in 2015 with a total of 835 soon-to-be college students getting their hands dirty.
"Students are not only learning the value of a hard day's work outdoors; they are learning what Tennessee State Parks have to offer and why they matter," said Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Deputy Commissioner Brock Hill. "We hope the work they put in creates a sense of ownership and pride in their state's park system that they carry with them to the next phase of their lives."
Students are encouraged to volunteer in their field of interest to gain relevant experience for college and beyond, but all time contributed to a nonprofit or public service organization is eligible. Students must submit eight hours prior to each academic term.
Tennessee Promise Saturday occurs every June and is open to all community members - not just program participants. Mentors through the tnAchieves program are encouraged to attend alongside their student mentee.
For more information on Tennessee State Parks, visit www.tnstateparks.com.