PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. — Officials with Dollywood Parks and Resorts announced Tuesday it will cover all of the costs for any employee who chooses to pursue further education.
The new employee benefit emerged through the "GROW U" program by Herschend Enterprises, an operating partner with Dollywood and Dolly Parton.
As of Feb. 24, all seasonal, part-time and full-time employees at Dollywood Parks and Resorts can enroll in the program on their first day of employment.
"Our goal at Dollywood Parks and Resorts is to provide the best possible experience for both our guests and our hosts," said Eugene Naughton, president of The Dollywood Company.
"We know when our hosts are happy and feel cared for that they are going to pass that along to our guests. The creation of the program allows another avenue for us to care for our hosts."
Herschend’s "GROW U" will offer more than 100 fully-funded diploma, degree and certificate programs across its 30 learning partners, including programs in fields such as business administration and leadership, culinary, finance, technology and marketing.
The company will also provide partial funding — up to $5,250 per year -- for 150 additional programs in fields like hospitality, engineering, human resources and art design.
"One of The Dollywood Foundation’s key tenets is to ‘learn more," Naughton said.
"This program is created with that very tenet in mind. 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. We care about our hosts’ development and we want their future to grow because of love — not loans."
This story was first reported by Emily West at WTVF in Nashville, Tennesee.