This unique program offers the residents of Tennessee the opportunity to go behind the scenes in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and participate in hands-on, real-life resource management and science projects presented by Park rangers and other experts. The topics are covered in five one-half day and one full-day sessions.
Some of the past class topics included wild life management, fisheries, archaeology, exotic plants, air quality, historic preservation and native plants. Course topics vary from year to year.
Each class session is evaluated in detail by the participants.
Classes begin with a kick-off reception in July and end with graduation in January.
EYS Alumni participate in annual service projects and social events held in the Park.
Classes consist of approximately 25 participants selected by the Board. Applicants submit applications in the beginning of each year, are screened and recommended by a nominating committee.
There is a tuition fee for the program.
The applications period for the 2017 class is now closed. Please check back in January of 2018 for the class of 2018 application. Thank you for your interest.
The EYS Experience
“I was very excited when I was selected to be a member of the EYS 2013 class even though I felt I already knew a lot about the Smokies. ….grew up coming to the Park as a child. Hiked Mt. LeConte more times than my age. And I recently completed hiking all 842 miles of hiking trails in the Smokies…
But boy was I wrong. There is so much to learn about our fabulous Park that we are lucky to have in our backyards. Every EYS class was in a different location, very unique and full of interesting people and Rangers, and we were given information that I didn’t know anything about.
I just wish that everyone that loves our Park as much as we do could participate in and be a member of Experience Your Smokies.”
Sandy Martin, Part-time teacher at UT, previous owner of architecture and design business
Experiencing The Smokies: A Perspective
Experiencing the Smokies: what a fantastic time!
I’ll write my perspective in the form of a rhyme.
As a poet, I have a long, long, way to go
But words from my heart seem ready to flow.
Who’ll ever forget our hero, big Mike
He took us on long walks—really a hike.
Our leader, dear Kathy, and her wonderful car
Always ready with tablecloth and candy bar!
Great Smokey mountains…God’s gift to our nation
We’ll strive to preserve it for a future generation.
To save our fine hemlocks, our rangers will strive
They’ll find new ways to keep them alive.
To all the new friends we have made
Thank you for joining this important crusade.
It’s terribly hard to say goody-bye
But it’s with joy and not a tear in our eye.
Let’s all work together; keep in touch
I think it’s important that we do such.
And so in closing these lengthy remarks
I leave you with love and hope in your hearts.
Respectfully submitted, Ann Ross
“This experience ranks in the top ten percent of all the learning opportunities I have had in my 35 years working in education. I cannot believe how much I have learned yet had so much FUN learning it!”
Jane Qualls , Superintendent of Schools, Alcoa, TN
“This is the most rewarding commitment of time I’ve ever made!”
Kathy Doyle, Director of Sales & Marketing, Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort
“Experience Your Smokies was wonderful. I have lived around the Smokies most of my life and learned more in the last few months than I ever had before.
Maribel Koella, Realtor, Knoxville, TN