Opportunities for researchers to work with citizen science groups, interns, and volunteers to farther their research.

High School Intern Banding Bird
High school intern assisting with bird banding project, Great Smoky Mountains National Park.


Telling Research Stories

The Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center strongly believes in the value of science education and citizen involvement in scientific research—Citizen Science. Volunteers and students can often maintain equipment, collect observations or samples, and expand the geographic, temporal and conceptual scope of your research. We can assist researchers with locating citizen scientists and/or educational opportunities to meet your needs. In addition to the items linked below, there are many additional opportunities that may be better suited to your project. Contact us to discuss your options.

Educational Venues for Sharing Your Research

  • Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont—Tremont is a residential education center within the Smokies on the Tennessee side, working with middle and high school, college, teacher, and continuing learning audiences. Given enough advance scheduling, they can often find an appropriate audience that would benefit from interacting with researchers.
  • Smoky Mountains Field School—The field school offers a full schedule of workshops, hikes, and adventures for families and adults. Programs are frequently held on weekends and cover various aspects of natural and cultural history, including wildflowers, fireflies, black bears, Cherokee history, and orienteering. Programs run from four hours to two days. The Field School is an educational outreach program of the University of Tennessee and seeks subject matter experts, such as park researchers, to serve as program instructors. Program fees vary. For more information, call (865) 974-0150.
  • Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage—The Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage is an annual five-day event in Great Smoky Mountains National Park consisting of a variety of wildflower, fauna, and natural history walks, motorcades, photographic tours, art classes, and indoor seminars. Researchers are invited to lead walks or give seminars for the public on their areas of specialty. Most programs are outdoors in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, while indoor offerings are held in various venues throughout Gatlinburg, Tennessee. For more information, call (865) 436-7318 extension 222.
  • Other Teacher Trainings—The Park Education Coordinator coordinates a number of teacher training workshops and other science education trainings throughout the year. She would be happy to discuss having researchers present their work at one of these venues.
  • Presentations to Park Staff—The Education Coordinator or the Research Coordinator can assist researchers with establishing a date for, publicizing, and hosting a presentation on their work in the park to park staff and volunteers. Reporters from local news media may also be invited. In spring of 2008, The Great Smoky Mountains Science Colloquium was revived to bring scientists across disciplines together to share their work with park staff and each other and has continued annually through 2020.

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Sources of Volunteers and Field Assistants

  • Citizen Science Best Practices Manual PublishedWe are proud to announce that the "Directors Guide to Best Practices on Citizen Science" was recently published through the Association of Nature Center Administrators. This monograph is an outgrowth of a 2003 Citizen Science Forum held at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont. It is a collective effort from a variety of citizen science program managers highlighting how to plan and implement a citizen science program. For more information, see the Association for Nature Center Administrators website.
  • Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont - Tremont is a residential education center within the Smokies near Townsend, TN. They commonly have summer research interns (high school and college students), education groups throughout the year, backcountry summer camping groups, volunteers and an energetic staff that may be able to assist you with data collection throughout the year. Please contact one of their naturalists for assistance.
  • Volunteers—The Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center and many of its partners, including Discover Life in America, maintain lists of volunteers willing and able to assist with research projects. If a researcher can identify his/her needs for us, we will do our best to recruit the best volunteers to meet them.
  • High School Research Assistants Program—Each summer, the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center hires local high school students to assist researchers in the field. Students are National Park Service employees, supervised by the researchers and a park coordinator, and work on the North Carolina side of the Smokies or the southern part of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Interns will have to live within commuting distance of the Park. If you would like more information on becoming a research assistant, please contact the education coordinator.
    If you are a researcher and you would like to have research interns assigned to your project, please contact the science coordinator.

The high school internship project has been funded through a generous grant from Friends of the Smokies and Toyota, USA. Additional funds are provided by the National Park Service's Youth Partnership Program (YPP).

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Last updated: July 23, 2020

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