Cast one glance at the rolling peaks, lush forests, sparkling rivers, historic structures, cascading waterfalls, and incredible wildlife of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and you’ll fall in love instantly. Not to mention, the wonderful people found in nearby Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg are fun to be around and easy going to boot. So, what are we getting at here? Rounding the corner soon is Make a Difference Day, which began as an encouragement to do good on the extra leap year day in 1992 by USA Weekend and expanded into an unofficial holiday celebrated on the 4th Saturday of October ever since. Show your love for the Smokies by making a difference this 2019 on October 26 — as a volunteer!
How YOU Can Help the Smokies
Taking time to be a Great Smoky Mountain volunteer will be one of the best decisions of your life. No, we’re not being dramatic in the slightest. We truly believe volunteering in the Smokies is something you’ll never forget and always treasure. Knowing you helped better a community and preserve a wondrous national park for your and future generations is priceless. As a volunteer in the Smokies, you’ll be part of something much bigger than yourself, truly making a difference.
Anyone can be a Smoky Mountain volunteer! From clearing forest trails, maintaining cemeteries, and cleaning campgrounds to assisting charitable organizations, documenting new species, and educating the community, there’s something for everyone. And if you really don’t have the time or physical ability to volunteer but want to help, you can still make a difference by donating funds to nonprofit organizations — every penny counts never held more true as all the money collected is used to support research efforts, repair and preserve park grounds, and increase public awareness.
Ready to help the Great Smoky Mountains for Make a Difference Day? Check out the volunteer opportunities below!
Love animals and all things nature? Help keep their homes clean and healthy as a Smokies Volunteer. As a VIP (volunteer in park), you’ll have the ability to aid in the important care of the most-visited US national park. Smokies Service Days are held as half-day volunteer opportunities on weekends, perfect for those wishing to combine serving with an educational experience plus the ability to earn community service hours.
Volunteer Opportunities (to name a few)
• 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 to Volunteer: Download the VIP application, select what interests you most, and submit it to the Parkwide Volunteer Coordinator (address below).
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
107 Park Headquarters Drive
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Friends of the Smokies
Assisting the National Park Service in its stout mission to preserve and protect Great Smoky Mountains, Friends of the Smokies is a nonprofit organization with a heart for nature and education. If hiking, biking, and horseback riding are your jam in the mountains, you’ll really love volunteering with their Trails Forever program, which aims to rehabilitate and maintain trails throughout the Smokies.
• Appalachian Trail Maintenance
• Discover Life in America/All-taxa Biodiversity Inventory Volunteer
How to Volunteer: Fill out their online volunteer application — it’s that easy!
PO Box 1660
Kodak, TN 37764
Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont
Connecting people with nature is the primary goal of the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont. With now 50 years of dedication to experiential education, the institute is a great place to spend your time volunteering.
• Office Assistant
• Kitchen Assistance
• Gift Store Support
• Cleaning and Facilities Maintenance
How to Volunteer: Simply fill out their online Tremont Volunteer Application to receive announcements on upcoming projects that need volunteers, then follow the sign-up instructions in the corresponding email.
9275 Tremont Road
Townsend, TN 37882
How else can you make a difference? Along with donating time, you can donate funds, or simply keep everything taken care of when you’re in the park. If you don’t have time to volunteer, spread awareness of the national park with emphasis on keeping it clean and upkept. You can even purchase a few gifts from the nonprofit Great Smoky Mountains Association store!
Where to Stay
When volunteering, you’ll appreciate a cozy cabin to return to and relax each evening. Whether you’re bringing a volunteer brigade and need a cabin that sleeps 55 guests or donating time with a smaller group of 2+, Cabins for YOU has you covered! Soothe tired muscles in the steamy hot tub, admire the rolling mountain views from the rocking chairs, play games in the rec room, sip cocoa by the wood-burning fireplace, and settle in for sweet dreams in a king-size bed.
Volunteer for Make a Difference Day this October in the Great Smoky Mountains — YOU won’t regret it!