Officials at Great Smoky Mountains National Park in conjunction with the Friends of the Smokies and the Great Smoky Mountain Association are announcing a new opportunity to experience the Smokies. The new program, Experience Your Smokies, is a unique opportunity to get to know the park and its employees in a whole 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 of the new program.
Experience Your Smokies is a program designed for local business, civic 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.”
Participants will attend two half day and three 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, excavating archeological sites, and monitoring salamander populations. This is a perfect way to get an insider’s look at park operations as we explore areas like Cataloochee Valley, Deep Creek, Oconaluftee, Clingmans Dome, and Purchase Knob.
Assisting in planning for the program are representatives of Smoky Mountain Hosts, the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, the Swain County Chamber of Commerce, the Town of Waynesville and others. “Western North Carolina and the people of this region have such a deep and long connection with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” said Waynesville Town Manager Lee Galloway, “This program is intended to give participants an inside look at the day to day operation of the Park and a better understanding of this wonderful asset we have in our region.”
Experience Your Smokies is seeking diverse applicants from the surrounding communities for a program this spring. Program dates are as follows: March 13 and 27, April 17, May 1 and 19.
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 Feb. 15. Please visit www.friendsofthesmokies.org/events.html or call 828-452-0720 for an application.