Being employed by Dolly Parton might seem like its own reward, but people working at the country music superstar’s Dollywood theme park just received another fantastic perk. Herschend Enterprises, the operating partner behind the Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, attraction, announced that it will start covering 100% of tuition, fees and books for any employees who wish to further their schooling, beginning this month.
“Herschend’s Grow U.” will offer free access to more than 100 degree and certificate programs, in areas such as business administration, finance, technology and marketing. In addition, the company will provide up to $5,250 a year for school programs in other fields, like hospitality, engineering and art design.
“One of The Dollywood Foundation’s key tenets is to ‘learn more.’ This program is created with that very tenet in mind,” Eugene Naughton, president of The Dollywood Company, told WATE News. “We want our hosts to develop themselves through advanced learning to fulfill the foundation’s other tenets: care more, dream more and be more. When our hosts strive to grow themselves, it makes our business and our community a truly better place.”
The program will be open to all of the company’s 11,000 seasonal, part-time and full-time employees, including other subsidiaries of parent company Herschend Enterprises, such as the Harlem Globetrotters, Pink Adventure Tours, Wild Adventures in Georgia, Adventure Aquarium in New Jersey and the Newport Aquarium in Kentucky. The program will officially launch on Feb. 24.
This is far from the first time Parton has expressed her dedication to education. Promoting literacy has long been a passion of hers, and she has donated over 100 million books to children through her nonprofit organization Imagination Library in her ongoing effort to foster a love of reading in kids. In 2020, she also launched a video series in which she read bedtime stories during the early months of the pandemic.
Through her advocacy for education, Dolly Parton is changing lives. The world needs more people like her!