Elizabeth K. Dupree was selected as the new Chief of Resource Education at Great Smoky Mountains National Park and has been in her new post since April. Dupree replaces Cathleen Cook who took a new position as Superintendent of Chickamauga/Chattanooga Military Park in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Dupree, 55, came from Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve in New Orleans, La., as Chief of Resource Education, overseeing six separate locations and educating the public on the cultural and natural resources of the Mississippi delta region. A significant achievement at Jean Lafitte was the opening of a new visitor center at Chalmette Battlefield where Dupree played a major role in both the design and construction of the facility, as well as the planning, fabrication, and installation of the exhibits and interactive computer programs.
Dupree has a wealth of knowledge and experience in park interpretive operations, having worked in key leadership roles in a number of national park units over a 30-year career with the National Park Service. “This experience will be an asset to the Smokies in providing interpretive and educational activities to the millions of visitors who come to the Park, a primary function and important responsibility for protecting and preserving the flora, fauna, and cultural resources,” said Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson.
A majority of the Park’s Resource Education Division’s operation is providing direct contact with the public through: three popular year round visitor centers inside the Park hosting about 2 million visits annually; weekly ranger-led walks, talks, and tours; environmental educational programs such as Parks as Classrooms and Parks in Classroom, reaching thousands of students annually; and the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center, bridging educational opportunities with real science research.
Dupree’s diverse work experience included other assignments throughout the country at San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, Texas; Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nev.; Big Cypress National Preserve, Canaveral National Seashore, and Gulf Islands National Seashore, Fla; Herbert Hoover National Historical Park, Iowa; Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and Wright Brothers National Memorial, N.C.; and Cumberland Island National Seashore, Ga.
Two of her earliest field assignments were at Great Smoky Mountains National Park where she worked in the Oconaluftee and Cades Cove Districts as a Park Aid and Park Technician. Prior to entering into the interpretation field, Dupree performed a variety of duties in law enforcement operations and resource management activities.
“Being back in the Smokies is like coming home and I look forward to continuing the great community connections the park has with local schools and partners who help us educate the public about this beautiful and unique place,” said Dupree.
Dupree is a native of North Carolina and a graduate of East Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Parks, Recreation and Conservation. She enjoys hiking and photography among her hobbies.