It’s always a pleasure visiting with Smoky Mountain Field School instructors Joel and Kathy Zachry.

They’re a delightful couple and unquestionably dedicated to the Field School.

Joel has led Field School programs in Great Smoky Mountains National Park since 1980, while Kathy has taught programs since 1983.

When I saw them earlier this week at a reception at UT, they were excited about the release of Joel’s new book, Bears We’ve Met.

Joel (author) and Kathy (designer and contributing writer) talked about the challenging yet rewarding experience of self-publishing, from the editing process to designing the book cover. The project took several months, but the journey was a labor of love.

Here’s a brief description of the book:

“Bears We’ve Met is a compelling collection of short stories of close encounters with bears spanning more than 30 years of the author’s experiences in North America’s remote regions.

“In this documentary, the author shares early blunders and tense moments, including humorous and intriguing incidents, as he and his wife confront the largest of land mammals.

“The book recounts time spent exploring Alaska and Kodiak Island; backpacking along the Appalachian Trail; and hiking within the southern Appalachians, Colorado, and Shenandoah and Yellowstone National Parks.”

If you’re interested, Joel will sign copies of the book from 6 to 8 this evening at Mast General Store as part of downtown Knoxville’s “First Friday” events.

Darrin Devault, UT Professional & Personal Development

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