We had the opportunity to spend two full days in Williams, AZ and the Grand Canyon National Park working alongside a group of volunteers from 55 companies in our industry for Tourism Cares. Everyone was there to focus on the task of giving back to a community that is such an important part of the travel experiences in Arizona and the West. With 2016 being the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service, this event helped showcase the importance of taking care of these treasured areas of the country.
Our first day of volunteering was spent in the small town of Williams, located along the famed Route 66 and a popular destination for travelers to this region. The group of 100+ volunteers broke in to over 8 groups and worked for nearly 6 hours painting buildings, painting park signs and cleaning popular trails. Our group was assigned to painting the Visitors Center, a popular stop for visitors to pick up information, maps, passes and more when they first arrive. There was a great sense of accomplishment at the end of the day when we realized that other than some pink window trim we gave everything a fresh bright coat of paint. If you ever find yourself in Williams, know that Stephanie and Wendy helped paint it!
The following day we journeyed north by train on the Grand Canyon Railway to Grand Canyon National Park. But there was no time to see the canyon … we set immediately to work picking up micro trash. What is micro trash you ask? Micro trash consists of little bits and pieces of glass, metal and plastic, all of which are detrimental to animals and birds, especially the condor. The condors are attracted to items that sparkle and shine, and eating these pieces of trash causes injury and sometimes death to the bird and their chicks. Armed with a trash bag and trash grabber stick, we spread out throughout the main village and spent two hours in the cold rain picking up trash that visitors to the park carelessly toss. The Ranger advised us that if he had to do this work by himself it would be the equivalent of 5 weeks to cover the same ground. Rewarding… absolutely!
No trip to the Grand Canyon is complete without actually visiting the canyon, so after our tasks were complete we ventured out on a 2.5 mile hike to take in some of the incredible scenery. There is nothing quite like this incredible National Park and we were both fortunate to be able to ‘get out and give back’ to these communities that are such important elements of our tours.
By Wendy Stancel and Stephanie Brooks