Parkway Voices

Through engaging with oral history interviews collected in the 1990’s of early Blue Ridge Parkway employees, students will explore the stories that birthed and shaped the Blue Ridge Parkway. Interviewees include park planners and engineers, rangers, historians, managers, and agronomists who worked on the Parkway during and after the 1930’s Depression era as well tenants who lived and worked on Moses and Bertha Cone’s Flat Top Estate in Blowing Rock prior to Bertha Cone’s death in 1947. Students will choose one interview to serve as their window into the past through transcription, discussion with the interviewer, class sharing, readings, visits to the park, and deeper research into an angle of interest discussed in their interview. This course will involve field trips to the Cone Estate and other nearby Parkway sites. Students will gain deeper insight into the value of gathering firsthand data and the multiple perspectives that shape the complex history of a place.

Course Details
Course Number: 
Section Number(s) and Day/Times Taught: 
184: W 2:00-4:30pm
Spring 2023
Civic Engagement

Julie Mullis

Julie Mullis has worked in the field of environmental education since 1991, including eight seasons as an interpretive park ranger on the Blue Ridge Parkway (National Park Service), two seasons as an outreach ranger for W. Kerr Scott Reservoir (US Army Corps of Engineers) , two season as a naturalist and environmental educator at Grandfather Mountain (Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation) , and a season as an interpretive forest ranger at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center for Tongass National Forest in Juneau, Alaska (US Forest Service). During her 1995-1997 seasons working in the Parkway’s Julian Price and Moses Cone recreation areas, she coordinated a reunion and oral history blitz for Cone Estate Employees and received a grant to interview early Parkway employees. After a 20-year career at Wilkes Community College where she taught English composition, American literature, and humanities courses including Southern and Appalachian Culture and served as department chair and Global Education Director, she returned to the field of environmental education. She currently works again as an interpretive ranger on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Doughton Park to the north of Watauga County. 

Julie earned her MA from AppState in English: Post-Secondary Education and her BA in English from UNC-Charlotte where she also took what interesting biology field courses she could fit in.  Julie’s often presents on fungi, wild plant uses and stories, and other natural world topics of interest and teaches an Environmental Education Certification Prep class for Lees McRae College.  She also volunteers as a docent at Fort Defiance Historic Site. Her interests include foraging for edible and medicinal mushrooms and plants, hiking and backpacking, reading both fiction and non-fiction, gardening, birding, and seeing the world from the perspectives of other people and other organisms.