Officials at Great Smoky Mountains National Park in conjunction with the Friends of the Smokies and the Great Smoky Mountain Association are announcing an opportunity to immerse yourself in the national park. The 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. 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.”
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.
One of last year’s participants, Theresa Broderick of the Fontana Village Resort and City Councilwoman for Fontana Dam, said of her experience, “I was impressed by the enthusiasm of the entire staff for their respective roles. 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 as follows: 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 Feb. 22. The program costs $50.00 with funds going towards program administration and materials. Please visit www.friendsofthesmokies.org/events.html or call 828-452-0720 for an application.