• Approximately 1,500 black bears live in the national park.

    Great Smoky Mountains

    National Park NC,TN

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  • Spring Road Status

    During spring, park roads may close due to ice, especially at high elevation where wet roads can freeze as temperatures drop at night. For road status information call (865) 436-1200 ext. 631 or follow updates at http://twitter.com/SmokiesRoadsNPS. More »

And for those in school... Issue 1

Are you interested in studying trees, forest dynamics, or plants? If you would you like to understand and restore ecosystems in the National Parks, here are some suggestions about how to get there:

In high school: Take science, geography, and math courses geared for college-bound students, because these will prepare you best for challenging college courses. Ask parks if they have high school summer internships, as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park does.

In college and/or graduate school: Take classes that interest you. If you love biology, botany, ecology, geography, forestry, geology, or entomology, look for research, jobs, or internships (see below) to gain more experience. Most vegetation management jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field. A master’s degree and research in these subjects are also helpful in starting a career.

Gaining other experience: Showing that you are interested and have field experience is vital. You can gain experience for a career through internships and seasonal jobs. Find internships in public lands with the Student Conservation Association. You can search the topic, area, or dates for which you’re interested. Find jobs during the summers while you are a college or graduate student through the STEP (Student Temporary Employment Program), which offers you non-competitive positions. Call or write parks directly for information about this program. Also, check out the Federal Jobs website for current, competitive job openings: you will probably start as a seasonal Forestry or Biological Technician.

Good luck, and have fun!

Return to Dispatches from the Field: Issue 1 main page.

Did You Know?

Flame azalea can be found growing on heath balds in the park.

The park’s high elevation heath balds are treeless expanses where dense thickets of shrubs such as mountain laurel, rhododendron, and sand myrtle grow. Known as “laurel slicks” and “hells” by early settlers, heath balds were most likely created by forest fires long ago. More...