Friends of the Smokies has received a $21,500 grant from the Richard Haiman National Parks Foundation to support the Parks As Classrooms program and to resupply backcountry shelters in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The Richard Haiman National Parks Foundation has supported Friends of the Smokies since 1999, contributing more than $400,000, nearly half of which has gone to fund the Parks As Classrooms program. Parks As Classrooms is a hands-on education program offered to Elementary, Middle and High School students and teachers in North Carolina and Tennessee. The program reaches approximately 18,000 students each year from neighboring communities.
“Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Parks As Classrooms program is such a wonderful resource for these local students,” said Friends of the Smokies Development Director Sarah Weeks. “Field trips to the national park are the kind of thing they will remember forever.”
As part of the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary in 2016, Every Kid in a Park and the A Class Act are two key Centennial initiatives to get all children to visit a national park and develop an understanding the relevance of parks in their lives. Great Smoky Mountains National Park will utilize its Parks As Classrooms program as the primary vehicle for implementing these Centennial initiatives.
This grant provides $20,000 for the Parks As Classrooms program and $1,500 to resupply privies at two backcountry shelters in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Peck’s Corner and Mt. Le Conte.
Privies at backcountry shelters use mulch to help compost waste. Most privies in the park are resupplied by physically carrying in mulch, but the remoteness of Peck’s Corner and the volume needed at Mt. Le Conte necessitate flying in supplies by helicopter.
The Richard Haiman National Parks Foundation was created in 1997 and has generously funded projects in Great Smoky Mountains National Park as well as Yosemite, Yellowstone, Acadia and Shenandoah.
Photo: Ranger Will Butler examines aquatic species with a student in the Parks As Classrooms program.