Friends of the Smokies has been awarded a $5,000 grant from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to fund summer programs in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) for urban youth in partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of the Tennessee Valley.
Funds provided by TVA will pay transportation expenses for elementary aged students in Knoxville to visit GSMNP this summer. These summer programs and activities will expose young people to the natural wonders of the Great Smoky Mountains including science and social studies education initiatives that reinforce Tennessee school curricula. Park Rangers will go on-site to the Boys & Girls Clubs to present fun, hands-on activities that help the children become comfortable with the rangers and begin learning about the park’s natural ecosystems. The program also provides a summer day camp experience with one-day in-park field trips to learn about the cultural history of the area and the park’s natural biodiversity.
Most of the students participating in this program are from Title I schools, which include students near or below the poverty level, qualifying for the free or reduced lunch program, and are at the most risk of failure. Their participation in the program will be at no cost to them or their families. Friends of the Smokies anticipates reaching more than 1,500 students through the summer program for urban youth in 2019.
“We are excited to fund this summer education program in the Smokies again this year,” said Tim Chandler, Friends of the Smokies Executive Director & CEO. “These kids are the next generation of park users and stewards, so we will jump at any chance we have to reach them and introduce them to the wonders of the natural world in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.”
Friends of the Smokies will provide an additional $5,000 towards the program through proceeds from its specialty license plate program in Tennessee. For an additional $35 annual fee, drivers all across Tennessee can support programs like this with a specialty license plate featuring a black bear and sunset over the Great Smoky Mountains. Learn more at BearPlate.org or visit your local county clerk’s office.
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