Ann Childress, Chief of Interpretation and Education for the Blue Ridge Parkway has retired after 33 years and 10 months of service. She was honored with a reception at the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center in Asheville this past week, where friends, family and colleagues shared stories and gifts.
Phil Francis, Superintendent, and Monika Mayr, Deputy Superintendent, presented Ann with a commemorative plaque and a Blue Ridge Parkway signpost in honor of her service to both the Blue Ridge Parkway and the National Park Service.
Ann’s career in the Park Service began in 1972 where she worked seasonally as a cultural demonstrator for the Great Smoky Mountains Natural History Association. She first became a permanent employee of the Park Service in 1980 at the Folk Art Center on the Parkway. During her career, she also worked at Cape Hatterras, Fort Sumter and Moore’s Creek National Battlefield before returning to the Parkway in 2007. During her various positions in Southeast Region, Ann was chosen as Atlantic Coast Cluster employee of the year in 1996 and received the “Keeper of the Live Oak” Award in 2005.
“We at the Foundation are sorry to see Ann leave. She has been a tremendous asset for the park, the visitors and for partner groups like ours”, said Carolyn Ward, CEO of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. Ann has been instrumental in the success of both the Foundation’s Kids in Parks program, and the Parks as Classroom program which is funded in part by the Foundation. Ann’s expertise and vision has helped shape the hundreds of interpretation and education programs throughout the parkway, and we will miss her. Her legacy will be seen and felt by millions for years to come.
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