Tuscola High School student receives park ranger experience in Great Smokies

Dinwiddie completes student intern program
Jul 24, 2013
Photo by: Donated Photo Tuscola High School student Allie Dinwiddie performs park ranger duties as part of the High School Student Intern program in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Dinwiddie was one of 23 high school students selected from North Carolina and Tennessee to participate in the program.

Tuscola High School student Allie Dinwiddie was one of 23 high school students in North Carolina and Tennessee to be selected for a six-week paid work experience as a park ranger in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP).

Dinwiddie recently completed the High School Student Intern program, which enables participants to learn a great deal about the park through on-site training exercises that enable them to perform ranger duties.

The program allows students to return to the classroom just in time for a new school year with a wealth of knowledge and experience gained from a summer working with rangers in the park. In addition to the High School Student Intern program, North Carolina and Tennessee teachers also have the opportunity to participate as part of the Teacher-Ranger-Teacher program.

“These programs are mutually beneficial,” said GSMNP's Education Specialist Karen Ballentine. “The students and teachers get an in-depth study of resource education techniques, scientific methods, and field research to enhance their skills and talents, and, in turn, the park creates advocates through better understanding of and appreciation for the Smokies. Teachers will bring the knowledge into their classrooms and the interns will share their education and experience with the local community through their friends and family.”

During their time in the park, teachers work alongside park rangers in the field assisting with resource management activities and education programs. When not in the field, teachers are working with Resource Educators to develop elementary, middle and high school curriculum for the popular Parks as Classrooms program.

Student interns assist scientists and park staff with field research and education programs while exploring possible career opportunities. They are exposed to and gain knowledge about a variety of areas while working in the park, including wildlife biology, fisheries science, botany, forest and stream ecology, geology, Cherokee history and culture, Appalachian history and park management.

The Teacher-Ranger-Teacher and High School Student Intern programs were expanded this summer due to a variety of public and private funding sources. Grants were received from the Verizon Foundation, the National Park Foundation’s Park Stewards program and GlaxoSmithKline Foundation’s Ribbon of Hope fund through Friends of the Smokies and the federally-funded Youth Partnership Program (YPP). These funds supported six teachers and 23 high school students from Tennessee and North Carolina school systems. Additionally, the YPP grant supported four intern positions based out of Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont who assisted with summer camp and research projects.

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