Few U.S. Presidents have had such close ties with where they were born and raised. The rural southern culture of Plains, Georgia, that revolves around farming, church and school, had a large influence in molding the character and in shaping the political policies of the 39th President of the United States. The site includes President Carter's residence, boyhood farm, school, and the railroad depot, which served as his campaign headquarters during the 1976 election. The Plains High School serves as the park's museum and visitor center. The Jimmy Carter National Preservation District includes part of the town of Plains and its environs. The area surrounding the residence is under the protection of the Secret Service and the home is not open to the public.
The Carters returned to Plains in January 1981. The former President and First Lady pursue many of the goals of the administration through The Carter Presidential Center in Atlanta, which has programs to alleviate human suffering and to promote human rights and world peace. When they are in Plains, Carter teaches Sunday school at Maranatha Baptist Church to which the public is invited. The Carters' ties to Plains have endured the stresses of public life, remaining as strong as they were decades ago.