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TN – State parks offer service opportunities for state lottery-funded scholars

Cummins Falls Park Manager Ray Cutcher looks forward to Tennessee Promise Saturday � which is July 23 � when students will be helping with litter removal. State parks all over the region are offering various volunteer opportunities as a way for Tennessee Promise scholarship recipients to fulfill their eight-hour community service requirement before the Aug. 1 deadline.

Cummins Falls Park Manager Ray Cutcher looks forward to Tennessee Promise Saturday — which is July 23 — when students will be helping with litter removal. State parks all over the region are offering various volunteer opportunities as a way for Tennessee Promise scholarship recipients to fulfill their eight-hour community service requirement before the Aug. 1 deadline.
TY KERNEA | HERALD-CITIZEN
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Iin November, they applied for it. In February, they made it through the financial aid process. Then when spring rolled around, they met with advisors and chose a community or technical college.

Check, check and check.

Now, the final box of their Tennessee Promise Scholarship checklist awaits — eight hours of volunteer community service.

It’s something recent high school graduates have until Aug. 1 to complete if they want to remain eligible for the state scholarship that offers two years of tuition-free education.

To help them meet the deadline, Tennessee’s 56 state parks and natural areas are hosting volunteer events through a Tennessee Promise Saturday initiative July 23.

“It’s a way for our parks to connect students to outdoor opportunities here in Tennessee while supporting their academic goals,” Brock Hill, deputy commissioner of parks and conservation, said in a press release. “We’re excited to get as many students as possible involved in hands-on activities.”

Students in Cookeville and the Upper Cumberland area have numerous opportunities to take advantage of Tennessee Promise Saturday. Projects — which are designed to beautify natural areas and provide meaningful outdoor volunteer experiences — include clearing brush, planting flowers, building trails, maintaining historic features and assisting with community events.

Krissy DeAlejandro, executive director of tnAchieves, the organization that administers Tennessee Promise in Putnam and 84 other counties, encourages scholars to contact the state park of their choice to register for a volunteer event, many of which are limited to a certain number of participants.

“We want our students to cultivate a culture of giving back that remains with them throughout their life,” she said in a press release. “While critical to remaining Tennessee-Promise eligible, this provides students with the opportunity to pursue their passions and explore potential career paths.”

Tennessee Promise is a last-dollar scholarship that provides students with up to five semesters at a community college or eligible four-year institution with an associate’s degree program. It also offers eight trimesters at a technical college.

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First Day Hikes 2016 Results

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Images from First Day Hikes

The First Day Hikes numbers for 2016 are in! Listed are the number of hikes, the number of participants, and the miles hiked for each state. Click on the following link to download the PDF: First Day Hikes 2016

 

We also received comments about the First Day Hikes from many states. These are stated below:

 

COMMENTS FROM NEW JERSEY:

Johnson Ferry House, Washington Crossing State Park History Hike, “Ferry to Ferry” “Hi Nancy, Just a quick note to thank you for the very informative hike today. I learned so much from your talk and really appreciated all of the new information about the crossing and the history of the area and Johnson Ferry house that I learned from you today. … You brought history to life today on a cold day and I really enjoyed it.”

Bass River State Forest, First Day Hike in NJ’s First Forest “Last Friday’s First Day Hike at Bass River State Forest was wonderful.  Nothing like a breath of fresh air, a nice hike, and a compatible group of fellow trekkers to start the New Year off right! Our visit to the historic Contact Station (cabin) was a treat.  Cynthia showed us the cabin’s interior complete with an architect’s blueprint of this circa 1940 building.  The CCC “boys” did a fabulous construction job, one that I hope can be saved for future generations to enjoy.”

Warren Grove Recreation Area (Bass River State forest), “Short and Sweet” hike in the Pines Plains. “Ahhhhhh … Thirty-nine people and 4 dogs enjoyed a hearty start to the New Year hiking the NJ Pine Plains in Warren Grove.  We hiked, true to the name “Short and Sweet”, 2.5 miles.  …  We actually began our outing with an 8 AM breakfast at Lucille’s, filling the small restaurant with 25 folks in an effort to fuel our bodies for the hike.  …  Seventeen of the people on today’s hike have previously participated in previous 1st day hikes in NJ.  Youngest participant was 4 years old, oldest was 89!  Included were teachers, naturalists, retirees, botanists, college students, meteorologist, machinists,  moms, dads, grandparents, young-uns’ and one state worker  😉   Longest distance traveled [to get here] was a tie between French Creek PA and New York City, NY.   We finished our hike with pot luck snacks and socializing….. wonderful.” [Note: “short” refers not only to the length of the hike, but mostly references the very short Pigmy Pines growing in this area]

 

COMMENTS FROM SOUTH CAROLINA:

Our interesting story is this.  This year we introduced a new aspect to First Day Hikes in SC – a friendly competition between military branches to see which branch could log the most miles on First Day Hikes in SC.  This was our way of showing appreciation for the sacrifices that our military folks make so the rest of us can enjoy things like parks and First Day Hikes.  SC has bases from all 5 military branches, so we hoped we would get a good turnout.  As a USANG veteran, I’m proud to say the United State Army took the inaugural First Day Hike military competition.  We look forward to growing the program and participation next year.

 

COMMENTS FROM COLORADO:

  • Across the state many of our hikes started out at approx. 20 degrees below zero and “warmed up” to around 20 degrees above zero!
  • At Trinidad Lake State Park we partnered again with our local animal shelter. They bring out adoptable dogs for the hike. This year one of our adoptable dogs had just recently had a leg amputated but she did great on the hike. She was adopted just days later!
  • At Mueller State Park, an 88-year old woman has hiked their FDH each year! Her photo is attached (Doris Hall).
  • Most hikers saw wildlife tracks in the snow, including bobcat, mountain lion, deer and elk. A few parks reported sightings of bald eagles.
  • Quote: “I woke up this morning and thought, what am I doing…it’s so cold!  Then I came out here and the hike was incredible and the fresh air made it all worth it!”

 

COMMENTS FROM TENNESSEE:

  • “I really enjoyed the day. The hike was very informative as well. Thanks to you all!” –David Crockett State Park Hiker
  • “What a fantastic time we had! Beautiful scenery, enjoyed the people we walked/talked with, and led by one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.” –Big Hill Pond State Park Hiker
  • “Will be back next year! Great way to bring in the new year.” – Norris Dam State Park Hiker
  • “Thank you to all the Park Rangers and staff that made this happen. We had a great time getting in some outdoor exercise.” – Henry Horton State Park Hiker