Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont is looking for a few special students who will graduate from high school in 2016 and who would be interested in being part of the Youth Leadership Class of 2016.
Up to ten students will be chosen to participate in a series of educational expeditions and opportunities in Great Smoky Mountains National Park that will culminate with the National Park Service centennial in 2016. Five students who have already joined the program took part in Tremont’s Wilderness Adventure Trek in June, and other activities are being scheduled.
“The program was inspired by National Park Service Director, Jonathan Jarvis, in his recent Call to Action identifying ways to recognize and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016,” says Ken Voorhis, Tremont’s executive director.
“The goal is to recruit a diverse group of students who are willing to commit to involvement with the program over the next four years, and who have a particular interest in and potential for becoming tomorrow’s conservation leaders.”
The students selected will commit to one week each summer for an active outdoor learning expedition within the national park, and also be willing to attend additional outings and education opportunities at other times throughout the four-year timeframe. The first expedition was held July 2012 with the first five class members. Tremont hopes to select five more students to fill the program.
“By participating year after year, the students will be constantly building on the previous summer’s growth. By the end of the program in 2016, these students will graduate with a strong environmental knowledgebase, an understanding of the inner workings of a national park, and a close connection to Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” explains education director, John DiDiego.
After they graduate, the students will be exposed to conservation careers and be encouraged to apply for internships with Tremont and/or the National Park Service.
Each student chosen is asked to help identify a community sponsor that would provide additional funding of $100 each year. Tremont is partnering with Experience Your Smokies to identify mentors who will help guide and counsel the students throughout the 4-year process, as well as help them identify their yearly financial sponsor.
Tremont is also seeking program sponsors to cover the annual costs of approximately $600 per year for each of the 10 students.
Tremont is working with schools and youth organizations to publicize the program and identify the students, but inquiries about the program are welcome. If you are interested in nominating a student, being a mentor, or helping to sponsor the program visit www.gsmit.org/2016.html. More information is also available by calling Tremont at (865) 448-6709.