Foundation connects youth with national Park

The non-profit Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation recently awarded a $98,000 grant for rangers to conduct educational outreach programs for students in communities along the Parkway.


This year’s grant is the largest the organization has ever given for “Parks as Classrooms” and will let the Parkway’s educational rangers offer these activities throughout the school year.

Last year Parkway staff gave programs to some 37,000 students, both in the classroom and as part of school field trips in which students explored the ecology of Parkway streams and forests, learned about wildlife, and took part in hands-on demonstrations of regional history and culture.

“Funding shortfalls make it very, very difficult for the Parkway to offer these programs without philanthropic support and we’re delighted to step in and meet this need,” said Houck Medford, executive director of the Foundation.

Medford said that adjacent development, air pollution, exotic plants and a host of other threats are undermining the scenic and natural qualities of the Parkway.

Parkway Superintendent Phil Francis described the gift as “just another example of the Foundation’s on-going support that lets us provide much-needed services and undertake initiatives that are far beyond what we could accomplish on our own.”

Medford said that the grant was made possible by the generosity of private individuals, corporations and other foundations, and by revenues from the sale of Blue Ridge Parkway specialty license tags in North Carolina. Each tag returns $20 to the Foundation.

According to Medford, the tag money is used for a number of projects and has helped reprint the official Parkway brochure, underwrite scientific studies and visitor surveys, purchase interpretive exhibits, and support planning for the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park.

More information about the specialty tag program and other activities by the Foundation is available on-line at or by calling 336.721.0260.

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