Volunteers make a big impact on Blue Ridge Parkway

blue ridge parkway

Photo Credit: jonbilous

The National Park Service honored volunteers who have made significant contributions to the preservation, protection, and enjoyment of the Blue Ridge Parkway at a Nov. 7 event.

“These volunteers have given the most valuable resource they have to give…time,” said Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent J.D. Lee. “We all have the same number of hours in each day and I am proud to know that this dedicated group of people spent a portion of their time in service to the parkway.”

Over the past year, 1,380 volunteers contributed over 48,000 hours of service, assisting in numerous ways to support operations on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The achievements celebrated on November 7th recognize the time, talent, and dedication to the Blue Ridge Parkway through the Volunteer Program. Following are the recipients of the 2019 Blue Ridge Parkway Volunteer Awards:

Blue Ridge Parkway Individual Volunteer Award

Latane Long from Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway – Humpback Rocks Chapter

As the first and outgoing chapter chair of the Humpback Rocks Chapter of Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Latane has had a tremendous impact on the Parkway’s northernmost area. Her ability to encourage engagement from others has been instrumental in growing the chapter. The commitment she exhibits to organizing volunteer groups to address Parkway needs has not gone unnoticed. This year Latane’s commitment was demonstrated in a new way as she worked to ensure the continuation of the Humpback Rocks Chapter by recruiting and training a new Chapter Chair to continue her legacy of service.

Blue Ridge Parkway Youth Volunteer Award

Virginia Ward – Rare Plant Monitoring Volunteer

Over the past 2 years Virginia Ward has contribute 133 hours to the Blue Ridge Parkway in rare plant conservation. Rare plant conservation on the Blue Ridge Parkway involves scrambling off trail to access remote locations that the park visitors should never venture. Detailed information is meticulously recorded for each plant. The results provide great insights about the health of a population and will inform current and future actions by park staff to conserve these rare and unique plants. As a volunteer Virginia recorded data, collected data, and carried field equipment to each site – with great enthusiasm and a delightful attitude.

Blue Ridge Parkway Volunteer Group Award

Nelson County Master Gardeners – Humpback Rocks Farm

The Nelson County Master Gardeners volunteers provide a level of service that has transformed the Humpback Rocks Farm (milepost 5.8) garden into a centerpiece of the visitor experience. The gardeners ensure that the garden looks great and contains crops representative of a turn of the century Appalachian mountain farmstead. The group also continually monitors the garden to manage issues with the plants to ensure that the maximum number of visitors can enjoy the garden, learn the stories of crops, and interact with the garden throughout the growing season.

Blue Ridge Parkway Volunteer Youth Group Award

Christ School – Pisgah District Maintenance Projects

The Christ School, based in Asheville, NC believes in the value of integrating service into the lives of students at an early age. In coordination with the Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway- Asheville Chapter students have completed multiple projects in the Asheville area of the Parkway instilling a love for service in the students and helping the park address some of its critical deferred maintenance needs.

Blue Ridge Parkway Volunteer Program Award

Craggy Rovers – Craggy Pinnacle Trail

In fall of 2018 a small but mighty group of volunteers was given the task of providing critical resource preservation messages at Craggy Pinnacle trail in the hopes of protecting the critically imperiled habitat found there. This past spring the Craggy Rovers crew grew from 8 individuals to over 25, providing daily patrols 7 days per week at Craggy Pinnacle. This year Craggy Rovers provided visitor information to over 12,000 people at Craggy Pinnacle helping to serve visitors and spread an important message of personal responsibility and preservation to visitors.

Blue Ridge Parkway Enduring Service Award

Linda and Bill Taylor – Johnson Farm

Linda and Bill Taylor have served as full-time volunteers from April through October for the past 8 years, operating the Johnson Farm near Peaks of Otter (milepost 86). The Taylors care for the Johnson Farm as if it were their own home place. The Taylors make it possible for visitors, local organized groups and school children to learn about and enjoy the farmstead, providing information as well as completing daily maintenance of the area.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities on the Blue Ridge Parkway visit the park website at www.nps.gov/blri/getinvolved/volunteer.htm or email us at BLRI_Volunteers@nps.gov



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