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Driven to Care
Toyota improves accessibility at Northern Alabama Park
January 2023
2 min read
Providing accessibility to nature for people of all abilities has become the focus of Toyota Motor North America’s most recent partnership with the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF). This three-year project is aimed to support new accessibility initiatives at the Harvest Square Nature Preserve, part of the Land Trust of North Alabama.

Toyota and NEEF unveiled the partnership on National Public Lands Day, September 24, as a way of celebrating the nationally recognized day for volunteering at public parks and recreational areas. That day, approximately 50 Toyota team members took to the park, volunteering to help build a boardwalk, widen trail areas, and set up a fully accessible picnic table.

“Connecting people with nature is at the core of the Land Trust’s mission and improving the Harvest Square Nature Preserve to be more inclusive and accessible speaks directly to that mission,” said Glynn Below, board chair of the Land Trust of Alabama, which oversees The Harvest Square Nature Preserve. 

Financial impact 

Together, Toyota and NEEF provided a $150,000 grant to support several projects to improve visual and physical accessibility throughout Harvest Square Nature Preserve. The financing for this project was part of Toyota and NEEF's 2022 Driving Mobility and Accessibility on Public Lands program. The program seeks to improve accessibility nationwide at public lands and parks, including those located in northern Alabama.

The Harvest Square Nature Preserve is located only six miles from Toyota's large manufacturing facility in Huntsville, Alabama. The park welcomes more than 70,000 visitors annually.

"I look forward to people of all abilities enjoying this wonderful preserve and connecting with nature,” said Jason Puckett, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama. “This initiative supports our mission of mobility for all, and our environmental and educational goals, all while creating a place for everyone to enjoy year-round.”

National Public Lands Day

The NEEF first enacted National Public Lands Day in 1994 giving volunteers a date to unite throughout the United States and help promote caring for parks and recreational areas. On the fourth Saturday in September, volunteers can come together to help preserve national parks, green spaces, and other recreational areas allowing individuals to seek out volunteer opportunities through the National Park Service website. 
Harvest Square Nature Preserve accessibility makeover
As part of the accessibility initiative, Toyota employees built a boardwalk, ensuring that Harvest Square Nature Preserve is welcome to patrons of all abilities.

Inclusion and accessibility in nature

Toyota and NEEF's Driving Mobility and Accessibility on Public Lands program helps to support numerous initiatives to aid in ease of access at parks and natural areas. Past initiatives include building boardwalks, widening trail paths, installing clear signage as well as navigation tools.
The president and CEO of NEEF, Meri-Margaret Deoudes, confirmed that NEEF remains committed to its vision of making public parks and recreational areas accessible to all Americans. In partnership with Toyota and the Land Trust of North Alabama, NEEF is able to continue its mission and help improve accessibility to nature and the outdoors.

Toyota: a proud partner to the environment

Toyota has served as a longtime supporter of national parks and green spaces, even launching the Toyota Environmental Challenge. This program, the 2050 Challenge, is made up of six goals for Toyota to meet by 2050 which go beyond eliminating environmental impacts and aim to create net positive effects on both the planet and society. Toyota is continually working toward this goal. In 2021, more than 25 percent of Toyota's U.S. sales came from electrified models, including hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and fuel cells, which coincide with the 2050 Challenge objectives.
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