For the past 12 years, Academic Travel Abroad has the opportunity to participate in Tourism Cares, an annual philanthropic event within the travel industry that strives to protect and restore at-risk destinations. In the past, volunteers have planted trees in Virginia and cleaned historical sites in Miami. This year, nine ATA volunteers headed to Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 19 – 21, to remove invasive vegetation and plant native flowers and shrubs at Coldwater Springs, part of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area.
May 20, our official clean-up day, dawned bright and beautiful. As a group, we made our way out to the work site ready and eager to do our part in this new national park. Our ATA team split into two groups upon arrival and headed off to our first assignments. In just one day, ATA and other travel industry volunteers removed 51 bags of Mustard Seed, an invasive plant that was overtaking this area, and planted over 3,000 native plants. Not only did our group get the chance to volunteer with local park rangers at Coldwater Springs, we also got the chance to bond while taking in a Minnesota Twins game. As a company, we cherish opportunities such as these and look forward to continuing to volunteer at such philanthropic events.