Volunteers Can Participate in Science Field Days at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mtns. NP

Great Smoky Mountains National Park. NPS photo.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is inviting high school-aged students, their families, and the general public to join scientists and educators in collecting scientific data during field activities in the park, July 13-15, 2009.

Three separate citizen science programs are scheduled: Monday, July 13, and Tuesday, July 14, are specifically targeted for teenagers and their families and Wednesday, July 15, is open to the general public.

Special High School Volunteer Day: Stream Splashin' Science! Monday, July 13, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Open to high school students, recent grads, and their families. Join a Ranger in the streams of the Smokies to discover the critters that depend on them for their habitats.
This project will include searching for macro-invertebrates within various streams to determine and compare the health of these streams. Be prepared by wearing clothes that are good for hiking on-trail and for wading in knee-deep water; pants and shoes for hiking and poison ivy protection, water shoes/sandals to wade in, sunscreen, a hat, and/or sunglasses. Also bring plenty of water, a bag lunch, and your camera.

Meet at 10:00 a.m. in front of the Sugarlands Visitor Center (2 miles outside of Gatlinburg, Tennessee). RSVP is not necessary. Call Ranger Emily at 865-436-1292 if you need more information.


Special High School Volunteer Day: How Do I Become A Park Ranger? Tuesday, July 14, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Open to high school students, recent grads, and their families. Become a Ranger for the day as you get an insider view into the lives of National Park Rangers. This day will give participants a chance to experience the many job options that the National Park Service may offer. Learn how to use a blowdart for a wildlife work-up, sample life in a stream for water quality, set up a monitoring plot for forest health, identify native trees and exotic insects, and use topographic maps and GPS units.

Come prepared spend the whole day outside and bring a lunch, water, sunscreen, bug repellent, raincoat, and a camera. Be sure to wear long pants and closed-toe shoes for poison ivy protection. Meet at 10:00 a.m. in front of the Sugarlands Visitor Center (2 miles outside of Gatlinburg, Tennessee). RSVP is not necessary. Call Ranger Emily at 865-436-1292 if you need more information.

Public Citizen Science Ash Tree Mapping, Wednesday, July 15, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

The second of four summer Citizen Science for the 75th days is open to the public of any age (for those 12 years of age or younger, a parent is required to be present). This activity is limited to 15 people. Please RSVP to Ranger Susan at 865-436-1200 x762.

Participants will spend the day searching for ash trees in the lush eastern part of the park. The focus will be on learning how to identify ash and other common Smoky Mountain trees, read a topo map, and use a GPS unit in the field.

Information collected will help NPS scientists develop a computer model to predict where ash trees grow so they can set up traps to capture the invasive Emerald Ash Borer. The Borer is not yet in the Park but is moving southward toward the Park through firewood transport. Monitoring ash and setting up traps to detect the insects will help protect ash trees for the future.

Come prepared to walk up to 5 miles on Park trails, including those with an incline and rough terrain. Be prepared by bringing water, sunscreen, raingear, bug repellent, snacks, and a camera, and be sure to wear long pants and comfortable closed-toe shoes. Consider bringing a lunch to eat after the field work is done at noon.