PENSACOLA, Fla. – About 200 people spent March 30 pulling weeds, planting flowers and painting for Tourism Cares’ Volunteer Day in Pensacola, Fla. Travel industry members from 80 different companies from across the country worked together to restore the Pensacola Lighthouse and the shoreline of Bayou Texar in Bayview Park.
“The Tourism Cares event has been nothing less than amazing,” said Jon Hill, executive director of the Pensacola Lighthouse. “During a year’s time we can accomplish approximately two to three major projects a year. This is appreciated, but pales in comparison to having more than 200 volunteers working one day. It is heartwarming to see that others in the tourism industry care enough about preserving our shared history to volunteer their time and gives me hope for not only the lighthouse, but for all of our cultural heritage sites.”
Volunteers from the travel industry gave back to Pensacola with their time, while Tourism Cares additionally gave a $5,000 grant to the area. At the lighthouse, volunteers painted 4,000 feet of fence, built 2,400 square feet of flowerbeds and planted 660 jasmine plants.
About 30 other volunteers at Bayview Park worked with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to stabilize the shore of Bayou Texar. Once the volunteers had finished, they had pulled around 500 pounds of invasive reed grass and planted 2,500 native salt marsh grasses along 600 feet of shoreline.
“Volunteers are a vital asset to the FDEP restoration projects and Tourism Cares volunteers rivaled the very best,” said Zachary Schang, environmental specialist with the FDEP. “They make hard labor look easy as smiles gleamed through the soil on their faces.”
Pensacola is Tourism Cares’ 10th annual give-back project. The first international Tourism Cares event will take place in Peru on May 3-7.
For more information, visit www.tourismcares.org.