Contiki US’s Digital Marketing Manager, Delphia W., recently joined her fellow Travel Corporation employees this past month to volunteer at the Grand Canyon. This initiative is a partnership between Travel Corporation’s TreadRight Foundation and Tourism Cares and this is the program’s four year of taking volunteer groups to the Grand Canyon for vegetation restoration.
Check out Delphia’s personal account of the experience, along with an update from last year’s Grand Canyon volunteering trip!
Guest Blog Post by Delphia W., Contiki Digital Marketing Manager
This was my second year volunteering at the Grand Canyon with my fellow Travel Corporation employees and Tourism Cares. I was excited to not only see the growth from the planting work that we did last year but also try my hand at something new this year as we worked on some new tasks in different parts of the park.
We started the day with a tour of the Vegetation Program facilities and learned about the different types of work they do to help preserve native vegetation and remove invasive species. They even taught us a few tricks of the trade for keeping tourists on the paths and off the plants (Hint: strategically planted cactus). After a quick training on transplanting seedlings from flats into individual containers ready for planting, we got to work! With some 80’s rock radio to keep us going, we spent the next few hours transplanting nearly 1,000 seedlings. These seedlings will grow a little longer in their individual containers before they’re ready to be planted along the canyon.
Our second project for the day was gathering cliffrose seeds along the Canyon rim…in 92+ degree heat in the afternoon sun. Challenge accepted. We sun-screened up, armed ourselves with water and bags to gather seeds, and headed down a path along the canyon rim to collect seeds by hand. This probably seems a little odd – why would you need to gather seeds from plants that are seeding just fine? The Vegetation Program actually does this not because the plants have trouble seeding but to take the seeds back to the nursery to help grow more of the plants at a faster rate and make it easy to plant them in different areas along the rim where their population may be struggling.
Just before we left the next day, we stopped by our work site from the previous year to see the outcome of our hard work. It was so cool to see how the plants have taken and grown and to realize we have now been a part of the entire process from gathering seeds and planting seedlings (this year’s work) to digging out rocks to make space for planting along the canyon rim (last year’s work).
Same plants in 2013:
It was such a rewarding experience and I’m so glad I got to be a part of this program again. The Tourism Cares staff was exceptionally helpful in organizing every detail and we learned so much from the Vegetation Program staff who were happy to share their knowledge and answer any questions we had about the program and their work. It’s always fun to work with this positive group of people committed to preserving this beautiful natural wonder for future generations of visitors.