Great Smoky Mountains National Park will celebrate the sixth annual National Junior Ranger Day on Saturday, April 28 from 10am – 2pm with special activities at all three of the Park’s visitor centers.
Children and their families can join in a variety of free, hands-on activities at Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, Tenn.; Cades Cove Visitor Center near Townsend, Tenn.; and Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee. Activities planned will range from ranger guided walks and programs to making dinner bells at a blacksmith shop. Making historic toys, cornhusk dolls, and visiting touch tables with animal skins, skulls, and scat are a few of the natural and cultural opportunities that will be available. Information on the specific programs is available at each visitor center.
Along with popular programs that we do each year, this year’s focus will be based around the theme, “Picture Yourself in a National Park.” Oconoluftee and Sugarlands Visitor Centers will have a special program planned for Junior Rangers to display their artistic talents, using the park as their inspiration. At Cades Cove a special program celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War will be featured.
Children can earn their Junior Ranger badge by completing three of the specially-planned activities. A Junior Ranger booklet is also available for those who would like to explore the Park in more depth. The Junior Ranger booklets, produced in cooperation with Great Smoky Mountains Association, can be purchased for $2.50 each at Park visitor centers.
This year, middle school and high school students have a special opportunity at the Sugarlands Visitor Center to participate in a High School Career Day event. Rangers from all different divisions from Law Enforcement to Wildlife Management will be on hand to give an inside look into what it takes to become a park ranger. To register for the Career Day, please contact Emily Guss Emily_Guss@nps.gov , 865-436-1713.
“National Junior Ranger Day provides a great opportunity for children of all ages and their families to spend time together learning about the Park while doing fun activities,” said Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson. “We hope that our local residents will take advantage of this program to interact with our staff and the resources, and, at the same time, plan a full day in the Park,” he continued.
National Junior Ranger Day is a special event for National Park Week, celebrated this year between April 21st and 28th. National Park Week is an annual presidentially proclaimed week for celebration and recognition of National Parks. Most parks throughout the country will host ceremonies, interactive games, and special events designed to connect children with the resources found in national parks.
Info: Caitlin Worth, Caitlin_Worth@nps.gov, 865-436-1263