The Blue Ridge Parkway traverses through the southern Appalachian ridges of Virginia and North Carolina. The 469 mile drive offers beautiful views of everything from farmland to mountain vistas, and is home to many ecologically and historically significant sites along the way. The Parkway connects Great Smoky Mountain National Park and Shenandoah National Park to each other, and unsurprisingly is one of the most visited units of the National Park Service.

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Working at the Blue Ridge Parkway is especially exciting for me, because I grew up in Brevard, one of the Parkway’s many gateway communities. I #foundmypark a long time ago, because some of my best memories are of hiking on and around the Blue Ridge Parkway. This year I’m thrilled to see the Parkway from a new perspective, and hope to inspire others to care for it as much as I already do.

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My first week at the office was a whirlwind because the U.S. Mint and the NPS held an event to launch the Blue Ridge Parkway quarter, which is part of the Mint’s America the Beautiful program. It was a great way to jump right in and meet more park staff, as well as representatives from partner organizations.

(and helping with the photo booth was pretty fun too!)