Blue Ridge Park Foundation Gives Back to the Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway runs 469 miles from Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Houck Medford photo.

Another $100,000 has been given by the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation to the Blue Ridge Parkway for use in educating students who live along the 469-mile-long scenic byway about the wonders of the national park system.

The money, which brings to more than $450,000 that the foundation has provided for the "Parks as Classrooms" program, was raised in part through sales of commemorative vehicle license plates.

The program's curriculum is designed to instill values of Parkway protection and preservation. Along the way to accomplishing that, it satisfies the national standards of learning in all 29 Virginia and North Carolina Parkway counties where the program is presented, according to foundation officials.

"Parks As Classrooms" is not just another environmental education program. There is always the contained message of major Parkway issues: threatened views, air pollution, and non-native plant proliferation.

Charles Wray, a National Park Service ranger who presents the programs in the Roanoke Valley, says "that this program opens a new world to them (children); they don't even know what a national park is."