Archived Outdoors

National park volunteers receive regional recognition

Great Smoky Mountains National Park volunteers received regional recognition through the George and Helen Hartzog Awards Program for Outstanding Volunteers this summer. 

In particular, Charlie Chmielewski received the National Park Service Southeast Region Enduring Service Award for his dedicated volunteer service to the park’s Fisheries Division since 1993. An active member of Trout Unlimited, Chmielewski acts as a liaison between the park and about 1,300 other volunteers who have dedicated more than 17,000 cumulative hours to the Park Service. Chmielewski, whose service hours exceed 23,000, has taken the lead in teaching youth and adults how to participate in field projects such as water quality monitoring, stream studies and brook trout restoration. Data he and the volunteers he works with have collected since 2008 have allowed the park to develop a comprehensive stream recovery plan. 

A cadre of volunteers known as the Laurel Falls Rovers received the NPS Southeast Region Outstanding Volunteer Group Award for their work to help more than 300,000 park visitors enjoy a safe and informed experience on the 3-mile Laurel Falls Trail, which is a top destination due to views of its 80-foot cascade. 

The honorees are among nearly 250,000 volunteers across the nation that donate their time, skills and talents to the NPS each year. Each year, more than 2,800 volunteers perform a variety of activities in the Smokies. Sign up to join them at

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