Tom Harrington has been volunteering at the national park for over 17 years. While working in the park three to five days a week, he provides informal roving interpretation, formal interpretive program, off-site community outreach programs, and is a member of the park’s ‘Adopt-a-Trail’ program. Tom has educated and enlightened thousands of visitors on these programs about the park providing further insight and appreciation, promoting stewardship and passion for the Smokies.
Sterling Fisher’s service to the national park began when he was just six years old, accumulating over 300 hours of service before he entered high school. When he enrolled as a freshman at Gatlinburg-Pittman High School in 2012, he noticed an absence of a connection between the school and nearby national park. Sterling started the very first junior chapter of the Friends of the Smokies to provide an opportunity for students to support the national park through fundraising and volunteer service.
The volunteer program at Great Smoky Mountains National Park provides professional and vital information to our many visitors every day,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “Tom and Sterling are excellent examples of that incredible service. When you look at their service record it is clear to see why they were selected for these regional and national awards.”
Every year volunteers perform a variety of activities including assisting with cultural demonstrations and special events, carrying out litter patrols along trails and in campsites, serving as campground hosts, and helping fisheries biologists monitor trout populations. In 2014, 2,560 volunteers donated 150,679 hours of service to the national park.