The Parkway’s “Parks As Classroom” program creates innovative and authentic experiences that honor and preserve the unique heritage of the region.
Inspired by the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s nearly 500 miles of roadway that connects Shenandoah and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, students are taught to value the traditions of the southern Appalachian region through the Parkway’s Parks As Classroom Programs.
Over 40,000 educational contacts are made annually to Title 1 students in the 29 counties and the 2 states that the Parkway crosses. Along with many natural science curriculum based programs, gardening and farming skills, spinning and weaving crafts, song writing and traditional instrument making and playing, clogging and flat foot-dancing are all part of the suite of programs offered. By teaching these traditional skills as part of the Parks As Classroom programs, the history and significance of the southern Appalachian culture is kept alive and thriving in the region’s youth.
Through partnerships with the National Council for Traditional Arts, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation and Eastern National, five seasonal education rangers and a performance coordinator are hired to supplement a permanent staff of 5 interpretive rangers to provide upwards of 1,100 programs per year that celebrate, preserve, and interpret the rich, living natural and cultural heritage of the Blue Ridge Parkway.