Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park .
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Funding enabled the Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park to expand its existing high school science internship program by hiring 25 interns from North Carolina high schools over two years. The organization’s recruitment programs reached over 1,800 students in targeted North Carolina counties. Interns, who received training to perform ranger duties and assist scientists and park staff with field research and educational programs, interacted with over 6,000 visitors to the park over the two-year period. Following their internships, over 90% of interns showed some type of knowledge gain on concept maps. Interns indicated that the program helped them understand science better; moreover, the majority of interns agreed that as a result of the program they were more excited about science, had an improved understanding of what scientists do, and were more interested in learning about science.
“It’s been awesome to see the inside of how a park is run and how research is performed. It was also great to have the opportunity to help educate and work with the park guests.” - Intern