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Dollywood to cover 100% of tuition for employees who want to further education

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Dollywood, the Tennessee theme park owned by legendary songwriter and performer Dolly Parton, will fully pay for tuition for any employee who wants to pursue further education.

The Pigeon Forge amusement park's parent company, Herschend Enterprises, announced Tuesday that beginning this year, it will cover 100% of the cost of tuition, fees, and books for any employee who wants a better education as part of a new pilot program.

The GROW U program is expected to launch Feb. 24 and will provide educational opportunities for 11,000 seasonal, part-time, and full-time workers across the corporation's 25 U.S. attractions, WATE-TV reported. Locations include Dollywood Parks and Resorts in Pigeon Forge; Pink Adventure Tours in Tennessee, Arizona, and Nevada; Wild Adventures in Georgia; Adventure Aquarium in New Jersey; Silver Dollar City in Missouri; as well as Kentucky Kingdom and Newport Aquarium in Kentucky.

“We know when our hosts are happy and feel cared for that they are going to pass that along to our guests,” Dollywood Company President Eugene Naughton said. "The creation of the program allows another avenue for us to care for our hosts."

“One of The Dollywood Foundation’s key tenets is to ‘learn more.’ This program is created with that very tenet in mind," he continued. "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 GROW U program will give employees access to diploma, degree, and certificate programs in business administration and leadership, culinary, finance, technology, and marketing.

The company will also provide up to $5,250 per year in partial funding for 150 additional programs in fields including hospitality, engineering, human resources, and art design.

"Whether it’s to pursue a new dream or advance their career with us, we care about our employees’ personal and professional growth, because we believe that their futures should be grown with love, not loans,” Herschend Enterprises CEO Andrew Wexler said. “Our team members’ success is our success — and that’s why we’re thrilled to make this benefit available to all, regardless of their role in the company and without the burden of debt.”

Employees will be able to register for the GROW U program on their first day on the job.

Dollywood Parks & resorts is now hiring for the 2022 operating season. Applicants must be at least 14 years old to apply for a job.

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