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Cherokee Preservation Foundation Wins Award, Partners with GSMNP

Posted by | 10.23.2017

"It was so awesome up there in the woods and made me feel so proud to be Cherokee."
- Tally, 6th grade

“It gives young people like us a chance to learn about the environment and learn how we can keep it clean."
- Damian, 8th grade

"I like that it was interactive and not just a long speech. This is a great way for us to learn about our park."
- Juanita, 8th grade

"You were able to combine fun and education."
- Niobie, 8th grade

Reflections by former Cherokee Middle School students demonstrate their appreciation and enjoyment of Seeking Paths in Nature,  or SPiN.

Funded in part by a grant from the Cherokee Preservation Foundation, and with support from Friends of the Smokies and the Great Smoky Mountains Association, SPiN is an educational partnership between Cherokee Middle School in Cherokee, NC, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. CPF's mission is to preserve native culture, protect and enhance the natural environment and create diverse economic opportunities in order to improve the quality of life for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and those in western North Carolina. 

“The geography and history of the park come to life for students through both in-class and in-park experiences,” said Julie W. Townsend, SPiN’s program coordinator. “We also provide teachers with pre-site, on-site and post-site activities and materials to extend and enrich the experience of each park visit.”

Because of its dedicated support of community strengthening programs such as SPiN, CPF has been chosen to receive the Outstanding Foundation Award for National Philanthropy Day, an event highlighting regional philanthropists, held in Asheville, NC, on November 14. The award, presented by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, honors a foundation that demonstrates outstanding commitment through financial support and through motivation of others to take philanthropic leadership.

“Cherokee Preservation Foundation has proven their commitment to the community by working with others in our region to build relationships between the National Park Service, nonprofits, businesses and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in western North Carolina including the Qualla Boundary,” wrote Friends of the Smokies President Jim Hart as part of the nomination materials.

CPF funds a number of projects in western North Carolina, yet SPiN, with support from FOTS and GSMA, uniquely connects students to the park’s resources through culturally relevant experiential learning, affirming stewardship while fostering emotional and intellectual connections to the park as well as to historic Cherokee lands, and increasing students’ awareness of further educational and professional opportunities.

Townsend collaborates with CMS teachers, EBCI Tribal Historic Preservation Office, EBCI Fisheries and Wildlife Management, the Museum of the Cherokee, Cherokee Choices, and additional EBCI community members. Through trips to GSMNP, SPiN provides direct student involvement with real data collection on a variety of long-term research projects that monitor the effects of threats to park resources. Ongoing professional development workshops created through collaboration, as well as research to meet the goals of CMS and EBCI, are provided to teachers and park rangers.

“Cherokee Preservation Foundation has opened a new door for Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” Hart said, “by collaborating between park rangers, teachers, community members and Cherokee tribal resources to support education with culturally relevant curriculum specific to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.”