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EE Feature: Emily Walker, Chimney Rock

We have an amazing community at EENC! Time and again, the thing we hear our members love most is the other people they can meet and connect with. To help you build your network, we love to post stories about educators in our state.

Our interview today features Chimney Rock Management Director Emily Walker, a long time EENC member, supporter, and former board member. While you might know Chimney Rock for its views, read on to learn more about their EE efforts!

EENC: How did you get involved with Chimney Rock? EW: I came to the Chimney Rock with my sister in 2005 looking for a summer job. We had our hearts set on moving to the Western NC Mountains, but I was hesitant to leave my position as a wildlife tech in Atlanta. The opportunity to interpret the incredible diversity of the park's resources with guests from around the world was reason enough to make the move. It's been a long summer - 16 years!

EENC: Why does Chimney Rock Management prioritize environmental education? EW: Chimney Rock Management's mission is to Create Elevated Experiences. We aim to do this by helping to create connections between people and the natural world. Environmental education is one of the best ways we can help foster these relationships. We prioritize our ee programs by supporting our efforts with other revenue streams in order to make it sustainable. We also try to incorporate some sort of interpretive or educational activity into any event or group function that we host.

EENC: What projects or programs are you working on that particularly inspire you? EW: We created a program in 2018 where our naturalists provide programs at the school three times over the course of a school year and then the school has a culminating field trip to the Park. We had to put this on hold, but I am particularly excited to see it manifest. The pilot school is a local Title I school where many of the students may have not had the opportunity to visit before. We are also currently working on more informal interpretation opportunities to reach more visitors by having pop-up stations throughout the Park. I think this opportunity will help us to reach an audience that may not have come to the more structured programs due to commitments or interests.

EENC: What goals do you have for your organization or programs within the EE field? EW: Our goal is to grow the recognition of our ee opportunities so that we can have a greater impact. We want to help create a bond between local students and the area. Our hope is that if we can help them to understand how incredible of a place they live that they'll work to protect the resource throughout their lives.

EENC: What’s your favorite spot to be in the park this summer?

EW: The Skyline Trail! It's quiet and gives you the feeling that you have the Park to yourself. It's an awesome trail that provides both a shady forest hike and some awesome views.


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