EYS News & Updates

2015 Experience Your Smokies Tennessee Alumni Hayride
Alumni and friends enjoyed a great day in Cades Cove and learned more about the Cove from Ranger Mike.  Appearance of bears during the hayride topped off the day.
Wagon frontMike Laughs before Hides_DebbieFirst bears_DeWolf Hides_Charlene EYS2015 Experience Your Smokies Tennessee Class Kickoff
Annual Class Kickoff was held at Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont on July 18, 2015.  The new Park Superintendent, Cassius Cash, welcomed the class and EYS Alumni and outlined goals for GSMNP.  Steve Johnson, EYS-TN Chair, opened the evening and introduced Superintendent Cash, Liz Dupree, Chief of Resource Education for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Ranger Mike Maslona, coordinator of the EYS program for the Park, who told the new class that they were to become “kids again”. The the new EYS coordinators, Leigh Ann Jernigan and Katie Branham outlined the classes.  A piece of stained glass art with the EYS logo was presented to Kathy Wilbanks for her many years and hours of service coordinating the EYS program.

 Kathy w hat laughingEYS Reception for Kathy Wilbanks
Alumni of EYS and friends of Kathy Wilbanks gathered at Barley’s in Maryville on February 3, 2015 to wish Kathy well in her new position with Appalachian Bear Rescue.  Steve Johnson, EYS Board Chair, expressed the groups feelings about all the work Kathy has done for EYS and how much she will be missed.  Ranger Mike Maslona, EYS coordinator for the Park, presented Kathy with a Jr. Ranger hat that she is free to wear anytime! Kathy will be greatly missed.

2014 Class_C2014 EYS Graduation 2014
Experience Your Smokies Class of 2014 Graduation  –  January 16, 2015
Graduates of the 2014 were feted at Great Smoky Mountains at Tremont.  EYS Board Chair, Steve Johnson, welcomed all.  Park personnel who spoke and presented certificates to the class included acting Superintendent of the Park, Clay Jordan, Elizabeth Dupree, Chief of Resource Education for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Ranger Mike Maslona, coordinator of the EYS program for the Park.  Leigh Ann Jernigan and John McArthur, class members,  gave testimonials about how they were influenced by the EYS program.  Kathy Wilbanks has been the volunteer coordinator for 12 years who is stepping down, was recognized by the Park with a gift basket presented by Liz Dupree.

2014 Experience Your Smokies Class Kickoff

Annual Class Kickoff was held at Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont on July 19, 2014.  Kenny Wiggins, outgoing Chair, introduced new Chair, Steve Johnson who welcomed the new EYS class.  Elizabeth Dupree, Chief of Resource Education for
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Cynthia MacLeod, acting Superintendent of the Park both spoke and greeted the class and the EYS Alumni.  Ranger Mike Maslona, cooridnator of the program for the Park, encouraged the class to become “kids” again.
Volunteer coordinator, Kathy Wilbanks, completed the program.

EYS Graduation 2013
Experience Your Smokies Class of 2013 Graduation
The 2013 class and alumni of EYS attended a graduation celebration at Tremont Institute January 10, 2014.  The 2013 class and alumni were welcomed by Kenny Wiggins, Chairman of the Board,  Park staff representatives, coordinator of the class, Ranger Mike Maslona, and volunteer coordinator, Kathy Wilbanks.  Class members Sandy Martin and Randy McGinnis, who also entertained with Native American flute music, spoke about what the class meant to them before the class received their certificates.

Annual Projects
Each year, alumni gather to support a variety of service projects, including restoration of grounds at the John Oliver Cabin in Cades Cove, installation of anti-graffiti signs, collection of native seeds for restoration projects, trail maintenance, eradication of invasive plants. Year-end clean up at Tremont Institute was the 2013 service project and helping repair the Chimney Tops trail was the 2012 service project.

Experience Your Smokies Celebrates 10th Anniversary
In June 2011 Alumni of Blount County’s Experience Your Smokies program gathered at the Twin Creeks Science and Education Center to learn about the past, present and future of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park while celebrating the organization’s 10th anniversary.  Participants were treated to a tour of the research facilities,  one of the largest science centers in the National Park Service system.
Following welcomes and words of congratulation from Dale Ditmanson, park superintendent, and Kevin FitzGerald, deputy superintendent, welcomed the group of approximately 80 alumni.