JUser: :_load: Unable to load user with ID: 56341
Archived Outdoors

Volunteers needed 
to help track seasonal changes of trees 

Summer brings a diversity of plant life to the park. File photo Summer brings a diversity of plant life to the park. File photo

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is currently recruiting local volunteers to ‘Adopt-A-Plot’ and track the seasonal change of trees, also called phenology.   

Members of the public who visit the Smokies often are encouraged to sign up to adopt a plot of trees near the roadside at Kanati Fork, Newfound Gap, Kuwohi (Dome Rd.), and other locations in the park.  

Interested volunteers can attend a virtual orientation session from 10 a.m. to noon on March 11, and later field site orientations will follow. Volunteers can sign up to visit their “adopted” study plot weekly, and less during summer months, to monitor trees from the first bud in spring to the last leaf drop in fall. Volunteers will monitor when trees develop buds, leaf out, produce flowers and fruit, and when leaves change color.  

Data collected by volunteers will be used in collective park-wide research to interpret how changing climate and length of day affect when seasonal changes occur. Researchers are noticing seasonal and annual shifts of the timing of phenophases, the stages of the life cycles of trees in the park. Early or late phenophases can affect entire forest ecosystems because all organisms are interconnected in the food web and depend on trees to survive.  

Anyone interested in this volunteer opportunity can email Angel Chaffin at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to register for the virtual phenology orientation.  

For more information about phenology research efforts across the country, visit the National Phenology Network at usanpn.org

Smokey Mountain News Logo
Go to top
Payment Information


At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.