Friends’ license plate sales support student internships

May 09, 2014
Photo by: Donated photo For more than 20 years, Friends of the Smokies raised over $41 million to help maintain Great Smoky Mountains National Park as a crown jewel of the national park system, including the establishment of the $4 million Trails Forever endowment to improve Smoky Mountain hiking trails in perpetuity.

Sales of the Friends of the Smokies specialty license plate in North Carolina benefit priority projects in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) including support for seasonal internships and Student Conservation Association (SCA) positions.

The North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles has released first quarter figures with $90,160 going to Friends of the Smokies from specialty plate sales. Total contributions from the Smokies plate now top $3.6 million since the program launched in 1999.

These contributions help fund projects in GSMNP including supporting 26 seasonal internship positions. Interns gain valuable hands-on work experience while providing cost-effective labor for the park. Interns assist with scientific research and resource management projects in the park including eradicating non-native plants, wildlife management, spraying for hemlock wooly adelgid, and sampling streams for native brook trout.

"Many of our park employees, including myself started their careers as an intern," said Management Assistant Dana Soehn. "These positions provide an incredible opportunity for the next generation to gain valuable, hands-on experience, while also providing critical field support for park programs that allow us to better serve our visitors and protect resources."

To help support Great Smoky Mountains National Park and conservation internships, North Carolina residents can purchase a Friends of the Smokies specialty license plate for $35 now, regardless of plate expiration date. Go to any North Carolina license plate office or http://www.ncdot.gov/dmv/vehicle/plates. For more information and to download a specialty plate application, visitwww.FriendsOfTheSmokies.org or contact Brent McDaniel at Friends of the Smokies, 828-452-0720.

 

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