If you’ve ever had the opportunity to enjoy some time in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – or any national park for that matter – you likely find yourself wanting to explore more. But in order to keep enjoying these beautiful outdoor wonders, we must take care of them! While the National Park Service does a lot of work to maintain our national parks, they still need help. And that’s where YOU come in. Thankfully, there’s a special day dedicated to giving back.
Started in 1992 as a way to encourage people to do good on the extra leap year day, Make a Difference Day is still going strong. It’s celebrated as an unofficial holiday on the 4th Saturday of October, which this year falls on October 26, 2019. So whether you love the Smokies and want to show it or just want to find a way to give back to this world in general, read on. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities in Tennessee in the Smoky Mountains – so YOU can make a difference.
Volunteer Opportunities in the Smokies
Volunteering does more than help others. It leaves a lasting impression on you. Enjoy incredible views of the Smokies, spend some time in the great outdoors, and know that you’ve left your mark – in a good way – on a place we all know and love.
What are some things YOU can do?
• Maintain historic cemeteries
• Clean up campgrounds
• Document new species you find on hikes
• Educate friends & family on how to take care of the environment
• Help clear forest trails
• Donate to nonprofits that support the Smokies
Be A Smokies Volunteer
As a Smokies Volunteer, you can help improve and maintain the most-visited national park in the United States. That’s a big deal! Check out Smokies Services Days, held on weekends as half-day volunteer opportunities. They combine education, giving back, and community service hours!
Smokies Volunteer Opportunities:
• Campground Host
• Laurel Falls Rover
• Mingus Mill Volunteer Resource Educator
• Cultural Resources Interpreter
• Native Plants Gardener
• Litter Patrol
• Fence Removal
• Overlook, Campground & Picnic Area Clean-up
How do I volunteer?
Download the VIP application, find what sounds most interesting to you, and submit the application to the Parkwide Volunteer Coordinator.
Parkwide Volunteer Coordinator
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
107 Park Headquarters Drive
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Friends of the Smokies
A nonprofit organization constantly working to make the Great Smoky Mountains National Park the best it can be for many generations, Friends of the Smokies has a mission to preserve and protect the Great Smoky Mountains. A favorite way to volunteer is the Trails Forever program, where you can help maintain trails that you would hike, bike, and horseback ride!
Friends of the Smokies Volunteer Opportunities
• Appalachian Trail Maintenance
• Discover Life in America/All-taxa Biodiversity Inventory Volunteer
How do I volunteer?
Fill out their online volunteer application and get ready to Make a Difference!
PO Box 1660
Kodak, TN 37764
Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont
The Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont aims to connect people with nature, and they have 50 years of experience doing just that.
Tremont Volunteer Opportunities:
• Office Assistant
• Kitchen Assistance
• Gift Store Support
• Cleaning and Facilities Maintenance
How do I Volunteer?
Fill out the Tremont Volunteer Application online and you’ll get emails on upcoming projects they’re hosting! Then just follow the signup instructions to become a volunteer.
9275 Tremont Road
Townsend, TN 37882
More Ways to Make a Difference
If you can’t volunteer, you can donate money, be sure you just clean up your own things when you’re spending time in the park (Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints…), or just do some shopping at the Great Smoky Mountains Association store!
A Home While You Volunteer
Need a place to stay while you’re volunteering in the Smokies? We have hundreds of Pigeon Forge, TN Cabins to choose from! Whether you’re here on your own, giving back as a family, or coming with a large group, we have cabins to fit any need!
And after you’ve finished volunteering, come back to these cozy cabins to watch TV on the big screen, have movie night in your own theater, splash in the private indoor pool, play games in the rec room, soak in the hot tub, sip lemonade with mountain views, or just sit down for a meal made in your cabin’s fully equipped kitchen!