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Tremont Reaches Young People in New Ways Thanks to Gift from Lawson Family Foundation

Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont has been awarded $25,000 from Lawson Family Foundation to support their efforts to connect people with nature through innovative pathways. Recognizing that outdoor opportunities aren’t equal for all communities, Tremont
is taking steps to create programs and opportunities that welcome communities in new ways. Tremont Institute is a nonprofit residential environmental education center located inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park. For over 50 years, Tremont has invited youth and adults to its campus for immersive, multi-day experiences designed to connect people and nature. In the last year, they have welcomed over 3,000 individuals to their programs on campus. “We realize that not everyone feels a sense of belonging, or even completely comfortable, inside the national park and we want to help address that,” said Tremont president and CEO Catey McClary. “By creating new methods for engaging members of our community, we’re able to help strengthen the relationship between people and nature. Ultimately, we’re building happier communities, curious learners, and better stewards for our planet.” One innovative program that Tremont is hosting is the Environmental and Community Leaders Fellowship (ECLF) at Fulton High School in Knoxville, Tennessee. This program, which began in 2018, empowers young adults to create equitable access to outdoor opportunities in their communities. During their two year fellowship, Fulton juniors and seniors develop self-awareness, civic leadership, and personal connection to nature, plan and lead community events in urban green spaces, and explore related careers and opportunities to be change-makers. Participation includes afternoon meetings, day trips, service learning and a multi-day residential experience at Tremont’s campus inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Each summer, four students are offered paid internships inside the Smokies with Tremont and the National Park Service.

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