On Saturday, Tennessee state parks and natural areas will host volunteer events to help Tennessee Promise scholars log community-service hours required for the program.
Nearly 60 projects are planned, including clearing brush, limbs and invasive plants, planting flowers, building trails, assisting with community events and maintaining historic features.
"This is a great opportunity for young people to improve a state park or natural area while banking volunteer service hours and having fun in a beautiful setting all at the same time," says Deputy Commissioner of Parks and Conservation Brock Hill.
The Tennessee Promise, one of Gov. Bill Haslam's Drive to 55 initiatives to increase the number of Tennesseans with a post-secondary education to 55 percent by 2025, provides tuition-free community and technical college to recent high school graduates. All Tennessee Promise students using the program this fall are required to complete eight hours of community service by Aug. 1.
Below are eight of the closest activities. Almost all have a maximum number of participants that can be accommodated. Sturdy shoes and appropriate clothing will be necessary for the work. Participants also will want to tote water, snacks and/or lunch. To see the complete list of opportunities statewide, visit www.tnstateparks.com/about/special-event-cards/tn-promise-saturday.
* Booker T. Washington Park — 5801 Champion Road, Chattanooga. Spring Cleaning, including such tasks as litter pickup, exotic plant removal and scrubbing picnic tables, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.; meet at the swimming pool parking lot. You will need water and snacks/lunch, plus gloves and safety glasses for some tasks. Trash bags and cleaning goods will be provided. To register: 423-894-4955, email@example.com.
* Cumberland Mountain State Park — 24 Office Drive, Crossville. Landscaping at Birds of Prey Sanctuary, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. CDT; meet at the park office. Tasks include installing interpretive signage and a donation box, laying rock sidewalk, constructing benches and planting flowers. To register: 931-484-6138, firstname.lastname@example.org
* Harrison Bay State Park — 8411 Harrison Bay Road, Chattanooga. Help spread gravel for the boat shed near the lake, 3-7 p.m.; meet at the pool parking lot. To register: 423-208-4993, email@example.com.
* Hiwassee/Ocoee State Park — 404 Spring Creek Road, Delano. Help out with Ocowassee Festival, an event the park is hosting, 8:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Tasks range from handing out information to loading and unloading supplies. To register: 615-631-2916.
* Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park — 732 Stone Fort Drive, Manchester. Volunteers are needed to assist in preserving the 2,000-year-old American Indian enclosure mounds, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. CDT; meet at the Old Stone Fort Museum. To register: 931-723-5073, firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Red Clay State Park — 1140 Red Clay Park, Cleveland. Assist park staff with resource management projects such as exotic plant removal, trail maintenance and grounds-keeping, 9 a.m.-noon.
* South Cumberland State Park — Grundy Forest Trailhead, 131 Fiery Gizzard Road, Tracy City. Help with a major trail reroute along the rough terrain of the Fiery Gizzard Trail, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. CDT. To register: 931-924-2980, email@example.com.
* Tims Ford State Park — 570 Tims Ford Drive, Winchester. Help cut a new trail with hand tools and also remove exotic invasive plant species, 8 a.m.-noon CDT; meet at Visitor Center. To register: 931-962-1183, firstname.lastname@example.org.