Great Smoky Mountains National Park Recruits ‘Adopt-a-Plot’ Volunteers

Sugarlands Visitor Center, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Interested volunteers will receive free training at Sugarlands Visitor Center and Oconaluftee Visitor Center.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Recruits ‘Adopt-a-Plot’ Volunteers. For this Smoky Mountain special event rangers are recruiting volunteers to adopt a monitoring plot in areas throughout the park. In an effort to track nature’s calendar, or phenology, volunteers will collect information as part of an important research project tracking seasonal biological data such as plant flowering dates and the presence of migratory birds.

Previous experience is not necessary but an interest in science and love for nature are characteristics of a successful volunteer. A 3-hour training workshop is provided and will include topics like tree identification techniques, stages of tree change throughout the year, fruit and flower identification, and phenology data collection protocols. Volunteers must attend one of these training opportunities which will be held at Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, TN on Saturday, February 24 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and at Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee, NC on Saturday, March 3 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Plots are available for adoption near parking areas at several locations in the park. Volunteers will monitor their adopted plot at least two times per month from the first leaf bud in spring to the final leaf drop in fall. The Adopt-a-Plot project helps us better understand how changing weather patterns affect our diverse ecosystem and the seasonal timing of wildflower blooms and fall color.

This is a wonderful opportunity for anyone, no matter what age, to learn more about the amazing biodiversity of the Smoky Mountains. Each season in the mountains is a special time and having the chance to create a scientific record that will help future generations understand this land is a worthy pursuit.

If you are interested in this exciting volunteer opportunity, contact Jessica Stump at jessica_stump@partner.nps.gov or 828-497-1945 to register for the training. For more information about phenology research efforts across the country visit the National Phenology Network.

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