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1 minute, 19 seconds

Video created by 2018 Volunteer Artist-In-Resident, Matthew Emmer.


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Parkwide Volunteer Coordinator
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
107 Park Headquarters Drive
Gatlinburg, Tennessee 37738


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Additional Information


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Join us. Hello, my name is Benny Braden and today we're here celebrating with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, National Public Lands Day. We set up our tent. This is where people come and volunteer and our focus is removing litter as well as removing graffiti. Some folks feel like they need to leave their mark. And we're here to remove that mark.

National Public Lands Day is really important to me, working to mobilize volunteers across the country to help restore and protect and revitalize our public lands, places that we can all enjoy, to relax, recharge, and learn about our communities and each other. Have a good time! We have established a garden at Cherokee High School. It's called sochan and it is a plant of resilience, and we do a study because it's sensitive to ground level ozone. Our 60 national parks, large national parks, are really about environmental education, and I'm so very excited and so very appreciative of the work that the National Environmental Education Foundation does. We take interest in this special day because enjoying the parks, and also the public lands, is good medicine. To unite people and to give them an ever-existing natural healing resource and it's for all of us. The nation needs healing, to disconnect from our devices and to connect to one another as human beings. Reconnect with nature. You know, the Great Smoky Mountains, it serves as a sanctuary for healing. Where are we as a country when it comes to race and race relations? And so that's what prompted Smokies Hikes for Healing, and those participants work with a highly skilled and highly trained facilitator, give us new tools and new perspectives on how we deal with race and race relations, because we all deal with that. When you hike in the Smokies, you always come out better than when you went in. For me, I was a first responder, struggle with post-traumatic stress, and I've spent a lot of time in the outdoors and that's helped me kick-start my healing. Our public lands allows folks to get to a spot where they can get away from the noise and just feel the benefits of nature, both physically and mentally.

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2 minutes, 36 seconds

Public health benefits of parks recognized at Great Smoky Mountains National Park on National Public Lands Day September 2022

Last updated: July 2, 2024

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Mailing Address:

107 Park Headquarters Road
Gatlinburg, TN 37738



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