The Smokies have become my home. They would not have attracted me so, nor kept me here if it were not for the unbelievable work and accomplishments of Friends of the Smokies.
I first really understood what goes on behind the scenes in the Great Smoky Mountains national park (GSMNP) as a member of media. Past the press releases, events and hoopla, in my research I saw what it took to educate the public, protect the cultural and natural resources and make the park a place where more than 9 million visitors a years are drawn too.
Working as a volunteer in the park in various programs, I see firsthand how Friends of the Smokies has responded to the needs of the park, forever positively influencing its resources and visitors. For example, I volunteer in the parks Elk restoration program. The all electric vehicle I drive along with the elk would not be here without the Friends.
Less obvious to any visitor, but crucial to science, is the GSMNP’s All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI) project where scientists with the help of citizen volunteers such as myself, have found more than 7,101 new species previously not known to be in the Park, and 910 species new to mankind.
This ATBI project could not have happened without the years of support offered from Friends of the Smokies. Scientists will be forever grateful for what has been found as a result of this program.
Hike on a trail that has been, or is being restored, visit the cabin in Little Cataloochee that was vandalized and completely rebuilt, marvel and learn from the displays in the new visitor center in Oconaluftee, fish in a stream that has had its native brook trout restored – it is all because of the Friends of the Smokies and those that support this great organization.
The park service cannot do what needs to be done alone, and it is only going to get worse. Every day more species are disappearing from the park even before we can find them, historic buildings need bats removed along with other restoration work performed in order to protect them for future generations, and through public education, a visitor experience will improve as well as resource protection. With the Friends support, this can be done.
I know at anytime that the great staff at the Friends is just a phone call or email away.
I can’t imagine my life without the Great Smoky Mountains national park, nor can I imagine the park without Friends of the Smokies. It just wouldn’t be the same.
I have tears in my eyes. You, sir, are a true Friend of the Smokies. Thank you for your support, your eloquence, and for the thousands of volunteer hours you donate selflessly to our national park.
Review from Guidestar
As the President of PDS Web Development, I have worked closely with many non-profits. It is incredibly rare to see a charitable organization accomplish so much good, in a way that impacts so many people, with such a small staff, and so few financial resources. Their sincere love of the Smoky Mountains is ever present as the staff endeavors to preserve, protect, and provide for the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The Millions of park visitors benefit from Jim's leadership by example, Lauren's "Midas touch" in event planning, Holly's strategically pushing the technology envelope in non-profit marketing, and Nan's timely and professional financial navigation, not to mention the passionate and tireless efforts of Sarah or Kathyrn. The plants, animals, environment, and visitors enjoy the fruits of your many labors. You make such a difference!
Robert- Thank you for not only being our vendor-of-choice for our web design, but for being our Friend. Your work on the 75th Anniversary site for Great Smoky Mountains National Park was amazing, and thank you for helping us keep that site "alive". Thank you for your kind review, and for always helping us find cost-effective solutions to stay on top of technological changes.