Friends of the Smokies has been Granted a $5,000 grant by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to Finance summer Plans at Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) for urban youth in partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of the Tennessee Valley.

Money supplied by TVA will pay transport costs for elementary aged pupils in Knoxville to see GSMNP this summer. These summer programs and actions will expose young people to the natural wonders of the Great Smoky Mountains including mathematics and social studies education initiatives which reinforce Tennessee school curricula. Park Rangers will go onsite into the Boys & Girls Clubs to present fun, hands-on activities that help the children become familiar with the rangers and start learning about the park’s natural ecosystems. The program also gives a summer camp experience using one-day in-park field excursions to learn more about the cultural heritage of the area and the park’s natural biodiversity.

The majority of the pupils participating in the program are out of Title I schools, which include students near or beneath the poverty level, qualifying for the reduced or free lunch program, and so are at the higher risk of failure. Their participation in the application will be at no charge to their families. Friends of the Smokies anticipates reaching more than 1,500 students throughout the summer schedule for urban youth at 2019.

“We are eager to fund this summer education program from 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, therefore we’ll jump at any opportunity we have to achieve them and present them to the wonders of the natural world in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.”

Friends of the Smokies will offer an extra $5,000 towards the program through proceeds from the specialty license plate program at Tennessee. For an additional $35 annual fee, drivers all across Tennessee can encourage programs such as this with a specialty license plate featuring a black bear and sunset over the Great Smoky Mountains. Learn more in BearPlate.org or go to your community county clerk’s office.