New way to explore GSMNP announcedApplication deadline extended
Officials at Great Smoky Mountains National Park in conjunction with the Friends of the Smokies and the Great Smoky Mountain Association announced an opportunity to immerse oneself in the national park. The program, Experience Your Smokies, is an opportunity to get to know the park and its employees in a new way.
“If you have ever wanted to be a park ranger or get a behind the scenes look at what goes on in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this is your opportunity,” said park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson.
Experience Your Smokies is a program designed for local residents, business, community and educational leaders to get a behind the scenes look into the national park, while networking with others from western North Carolina. “Our surrounding communities and their leaders are very important to us, and this program gives us a chance to make more meaningful connections with our neighbors and for them to do the same with us," Ditmanson said.
Participants will attend five full day sessions at a variety of locations in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, accompanying park employees in activities that may include radio-tracking elk, participating in a fish survey, and assisting with trail restoration. This is away to get an insider’s look at park operations as we explore areas like Cataloochee Valley, Deep Creek, Oconaluftee, Clingmans Dome and Purchase Knob.
“I was impressed by the enthusiasm of the entire staff for their respective roles," said one of last year’s participants, Theresa Broderick of the Fontana Village Resort and city councilwoman for Fontana Dam. "The knowledge each has is so amazing. This has been one of the coolest experiences of my life.”
Experience Your Smokies is seeking diverse applicants from the surrounding communities for a program this spring. Program dates are Wednesday, March 27, the following Tuesdays — April 16, April 30, May 7 and Saturday, May 18. Class size is limited to 25 participants. Those attending will be asked to commit to attending all class days.
Applications will be accepted between now and March 26. The program costs $50, with funds going towards program administration and materials. Visit www.friendsofthesmokies.org/events.html or call 452-0720 for an application.