Episode 15: Butch McDade & the Smoky Mountain Field School
Joseph starts the episode off by discussing children’s literacy. He discusses two programs, one of which is the storybook trail of the Smokies, which allows visitors to experience a Smokies themed book while on trails. It allows young readers to bring the book to life by experiencing the book in the mountains. The other program is Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. She started the program after being inspired by her childhood. Joseph introduces today’s guest, Butch Mcdade, a retired park ranger. Butch talks about the parks in which he worked throughout his over a 30-year long career. Living in Chattanooga Butch applied for his first full-time job in a park at the Chattanooga Military Park. Butch continues on, walking the audience through more of his career and more parks he has worked in both in and outside the Smokies. He always saw the Smokies as his mountains though, so they were where he ended up. The two discuss the trails in the Smokies, expounding on the wide varieties of trails in the park, with something for everyone. Butch worked in a visitor center just outside of Gatlinburg for his whole time working in the Smokies.
Coming back from the break, Butch talks about the reason why he ended up back in the Smokies. Besides having been where he grew up, he likes that there is always something new to learn and see in the Smokies. Joseph asks Butch to discuss some of his favorite trails and hikes in the mountains. After discussing his favorite trails, Butch gives his best recommendations for tourists if they only have one day in the park. The two dive further into these locations, discussing the differences between some of the spots on weekdays versus weekends. Butch discusses his involvement with the Smoky Mountains Field School. The goal of the school is to bring people into the park and teach them the history of the park, science, and more. Butch discusses hikes he has and will lead with the school.
Butch discusses some of the areas and mountains surrounding the Smokies. The pair move on to discuss preparation for the park. Joseph talks about one of his favorite places in the park, slide rock. Joseph asks Butch to talk about some of his favorite things to do in the park outside of hiking as well as some of his favorite towns. Butch enjoys biking but warns to stay off main roads as this can be dangerous. Butch has written many books and articles, many of which are about the Smokies. He discusses the content of these books, one of which is about artists in the mountains. He dives deeper into these artists and recommends some of their work. Not only are his books about the Smokies, but he contributed to one about the Appalachians.
Moving into the last section of today’s episode, Joseph asks Butch about an article he was a part of. Butch describes this article which discusses a missing child and the rangers who helped her sister find his grave. Butch discusses some of his other experiences, both hikes and other articles he has written. He is a contributing writer to many different magazines and publishers. Butch shares the resources he has and places where people can find his books. Joseph ends the episode by thanking Butch for coming on today and sharing his own resources and sponsors.
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