KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Fall in the Great Smoky Mountains is a beautiful time, but ahead of the seasons changing the National Park is seeking volunteers to help record when the leaves start the change.

The park is recruiting volunteers for its ‘Adopt-A-Plot’ program to track the seasonal change of trees, also called phenology. 

If you visit the Smokies often, you can sign up to adopt a plot of trees near the roadside at Kanati Fork, Newfound Gap, Kuwohi and other locations in the park. Then you’re asked to monitor those trees from the first bud in the spring to the last leaf drop in the fall.

The data you collect could help the park interpret “how changing climate and length of day affect when seasonal changes occur.” According to the park, researchers have noticed seasonal and annual shifts in the timing of the phenophases. This can impact the park’s entire ecosystem because “all organisms are interconnected in the food web and depend on trees to survive.”

If you’d like to help, the park is hosting a virtual orientation session on from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday, March 11. The park adds that later field site orientations will take place. If you’re interested, email Angel Chaffin at

To find out more about research efforts into phenology, visit the National Phenology Network at