Young Scientists needed to help Park

by Jul 17, 2013COMMUNITY sgadugi0 comments


Ranger Emily Guss leads a group of "Special Scientists" in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. (NPS photo)

Ranger Emily Guss leads a group of “Special Scientists” in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. (NPS photo)

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is offering two special programs for youth to participate in science and service activities this summer: “Special Scientist” and “Student Volunteer Days”.

Special Scientists 

Young scientists are invited to become “Special Scientists” and learn about some unique critters that are part of the amazing biodiversity of the Smokies. Registration is not required. Contact Park Ranger Emily Guss (865) 436-1713 for more information.

Slimy Salamanders: July 18 and Aug. 9 from 10-11:30am

*Meet in front of Sugarlands Visitor Center

*Ages 3-18 recommended

Did you know that Great Smoky Mountains National Park is known as the “Salamander Capital of the World”? Join a Park Ranger to explore the damp, dark world of the park’s most popular amphibian.  Be prepared to get a little wet and even a little dirty as we search for this slimy creature. Closed-toed shoes that can get wet are recommended.


Micro-world Exploration: July 25 from 10-11:30am

*Meet in front of Twin Creeks Science & Education Center (on Cherokee Orchard Road near Gatlinburg, Tenn.)

*Ages 10 & older recommended

Do you “lichen” lichen?  Do you know what a “water bear” is? These eight-legged creatures, scientifically known as tardigrade, are the “other bears” of the Smokies! Join a Park Ranger for a special in-depth science investigation into the microscopic world. Microscopes and other scientific equipment will be used to collect and view microscopic invertebrates such as water bears.


Become a Citizen Scientist: Aug. 6 from 10-11:30am

*Meet in front of Oconaluftee Visitor Center Administration Building

*Ages 10 & older recommended

Do you want to become a citizen scientist? Become a scientist for the day by assisting in a new science investigation in the park! The program will include using scientific tools in the field and taking part in an ongoing outdoor research project.


Student Volunteer Days 

High school students, recent graduates, and their families can spend time in the field with a Park Ranger conducting scientific projects such as salamander monitoring, tree identification and mapping, and water quality assessments. These hands-on projects provide participants with a specialized field experience that will help Park researchers perform important studies. This experience also provides young people an opportunity to get involved in science and in their national park in a fun and interesting way. 

Tennessee Location: Aug. 2

*Contact Ranger Emily 865-436-1713 to RSVP and find out logistics

North Carolina Location: Aug. 1

*Contact Ranger Beth 497-1907 to RSVP and find out logistics

If you have middle school, high school, or college students that are interested in these kinds of activities, along with other opportunities such as science and service projects, job shadowing, volunteering, and summer internships, please have them contact Ranger Emily Guss (865) 436-1713.