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Blue Ridge Parkway Corps
The Blue Ridge Parkway Corps is a group of student volunteers who provide conservation education to visitors of the Blue Ridge Parkway to encourage connection to and protection of our local natural resources. The BRPC is an affiliate of the National Park Service. It is a collaboration between the ASU National Park Service Liaison office and ASU Outdoor Programs.
--What is it like to volunteer with the Blue Ridge Parkway Corps?--
A lot of fun with friendly, healthy people. Good exercise and fresh air (except for the Galax which smells like a skunk but we'll tell you aaaaall about that). An opportunity to take your time, look close at things you normally miss and be in the moment.
--I don't have a car! Is that ok?--
Totally. Many days we provide a University van and on the days when there's not one available, we carpool.
--What am I going to be doing?--
Most of our time is spent "roving". This means walking the trails, counting visitors, picking up rubbish, introducing ourselves (Hi I'm Alicia with the Blue Ridge Parkway Corps. We're encouraging folks to stay on the trail because, this place has plants and animals that are very rare and sensitive. Enjoy your hike!) Sometimes people like to chat longer, that's great! Sometimes we get to talk about plants, animals or terrain around us or answer questions. Whenever we don't have the answer that's no problem! It's just another opportunity for us to learn, too! Once volunteers start to feel comfortable, they might give a talk to a group at the top of the trail where the rock makes a natural ampitheater. And some volunteers get crafty and make games for visitors to play that helps build connection to each other and the natural area.
--What kind of committment am I expected to make to be a volunteer?--
Want to volunteer for one day just to try it out? That's great. Want to come to all events? So great!! Please feel welcome anytime. Our only expectation is that you'll keep your commitment if you sign up for an outing and that you let us know as soon as you can if you're feeling ill or need extra time to study.
--Do I need experience?--
No way! All volunteers have a place with the BRPC. Just showing up and learning from other volunteers means that visitors can see you and know that App State values the beautiful place we call home. If you don't know the answer to a question that's no problem. If you're not very comfortable talking to people, you can work up to it by starting as a people counter or a trash picker-upper.
--Roving at Rough Ridge--
Roving the trails at Rough Ridge makes up most of our service. We walk the trail to the top stopping to chat with as many people as we can along the way. We might suggest a great photography location that won't impact sensitive habitat, show points of interest like Grandmother Mountain, Table Rock or Hawksbill or we might help folks identify common plant species like Rhododendron, Sand Myrtle or Galax. While roving, we keep a tally of how many folks we see and how many we interact with. We also look for trash and pack it out when we see it!
--Price Park Campground Service Day with Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway--
Collaborating with other groups who love the Parkway is a fantastic way to feel connected to the community. We love helping the National Park Service and Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway to get Price Park Campground ready in the Spring for the very busy Summer and Fall seasons!
--Interpretation at Grandfather Mountain--
One interesting collaboration we've gotten to explore is a partnership with Grandfather Mountain. We love to organize trips up to the top (free of charge!) We chat with visitors about being safe on the trail, taking care of the fragile plants and animals and navigating to destinations like MacRae Peak and the Grandmother View from beyond the Swinging Bridge. Visitors to Grandfather Mountain tend to be a bit different than those we meet at Rough Ridge. Many are from far away and don't describe themselves as hikers. Getting familiar with kindly interacting with all people is one of the greatest benefits of volunteering with the BRPC.
--Roving Day at Craggy Pinnacle--
Just like we rove at Rough Ridge, there are a group of rovers at Craggy Pinnacle a very beautiful (and very popular) short trail to a stunning view south of Boone near Asheville. There are occasional opportunities to team up with the Craggy Rovers and visit the Parkway Headquarters.
--Volunteer Appreciation at the Folk Art Center--
The Blue Ridge Parkway is grateful to have volunteers like the BRPC helping them to promote respect and safety in places where many enjoy visiting. The NPS would not be able to keep facilities open and interact with thousands of visitors without volunteers. To show their gratitude, the NPS hosts a luncheon and awards ceremony every year.
For more information about joining the Blue Ridge Parkway Corps, please contact:
Outdoor Programs (828) 262-7388