Students and teachers make the Smokies their classroom

out classroomThis summer was no waste for teachers and students who enrolled in a Great Smoky Mountains Park program that put them on the front lines of park management.


The Teacher-Ranger-Teacher and the High School Student Intern programs are six-week paid work experiences in which participants learn about the park through on-site training exercises and helping with regular ranger duties.

Teachers worked alongside Park rangers in the field, assisting with resource management activities and education programs. They also developed park-based curriculum for their classrooms. Six local teachers signed up from Tennessee and North Carolina this year, including Rich Harvey from Swain West Elementary.

Twenty-three high school students also signed up, heralding from Haywood, Swain and Jackson counties, Cherokee and other schools in the region. The interns assisted scientists and Park staff with field research and education programs while exploring possible careers. They gained knowledge about wildlife biology, fisheries science, botany, forest and stream ecology, geology, Cherokee history and culture, Appalachian history and park management.

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