The Smoky Mountain Field School has a number of exciting classes this week. Discover the synchronous fireflies, learn to sketch the beautiful scenery, learn about the amazing Black Bear, plus more.

The Light Show in the Smokies
Thur., 6/2, 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM         Fee: $39
Come to the mountains and witness the amazing spectacle of the fireflies that flash together in synchrony. It is truly an unbelievable natural phenomenon! We’ll meet in the evening just before dark to learn about natural history of the fireflies, synchrony in nature, and bioluminescence as well as the cultural history that lead to recognizing these amazing creatures.

Nature Sketching: Watercolor or Pencil
Sat., 6/4, 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM      Fee: $49
From a single wildflower to a mountain landscape, sketching outdoors is a wonderful way to enhance your appreciation of the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains. Both beginners and more experienced artists will find ample material for sketching as we spend unhurried time in the woodland landscape of the Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail. Through individual and group instruction, you’ll learn easy sketching techniques and styles. Pick up a pencil or watercolors and a sketchbook and learn to see the world around you differently.

Early Summer Wildflowers & Ferns
Sat., 6/4, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM       Fee: $49
As spring edges into summer, numerous wildflowers and ferns make their appearance in the Smokies. Visit various natural areas in the Park, from the lowest to the highest elevations, and take short walks over moderate terrain to find and identify a variety of species. Anticipate seeing showy plants like Indian paintbrush, flame azalea, umbrella-leaf, and bluebead lily.  Learn to identify ferns like the Wood Ferns, Bracken, Lady Fern, Hay-Scented Fern, and many others by close observation of their distinctive fronds and spore cases. The emphasis will be on appreciating the delicate beauty of wildflowers and ferns while learning nontechnical identification methods.

Incredible Edibles and Traditional Medicinals  
Sat., 6/4, 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM      Fee: $49
Climate and age of the Appalachian chain created a diversity of plant species that is greater here than anywhere in North America. This diversity of life has sustained man for 10,000 years. Spend a day discovering how to identify plants and trees Native Americans and early settlers used for dye, food, medicines, crafts, and other items of daily life. Sample delicious wild flavors appropriate to the seasons. The instructor will share the herb-lore from “medicine men” and “granny women” while the group searches the woods and fields of this temperate rain forest for its hidden treasures.

Mt. Sterling Firetower Overnight Backpack
Sat. & Sun., 6/4-6/5, Meet 12:00 noon, Sat.     Fee: $98
This overnight backpacking trip begins around 3,800-ft. at the east end of the park and ends 2.7 miles later atop Mt. Sterling at 5,842-ft. The 60-ft. abandoned tower, completed in 1933 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, provides stunning 360-degree views on a clear day. Though steep, the continuing rise in elevation from the trailhead to the summit, the path is tempered by the good footing found on the old roadbed. At 2.3 miles into the climb the trail levels out considerably as the final approach is made along the Mt. Sterling Ridge Trail.

Bear Management in the Smokies – Living with Bears!
Sat., 6/4, 1:00 PM to 9:00 PM      Fee: $49
Are you smarter than the average bear? Are bears dangerous? Can people (visitors, residents, business owners, etc.) co-exist with the Smokies black bear? Learn how to live with bears through an understanding of pro-active bear management techniques (trapping, aversive conditioning, relocation, etc.) that help keep bears wild. Is it possible to bear-proof your property, RV, or campsite? What should you do if you encounter an aggressive bear? Learn offensive and defensive bear behavior and how you should respond to each. Learn how bear managers in the Smokies resolve nuisance bear conflicts. Visit an area where nuisance bears have been common; might bring your camera. Hear some interesting and funny bear stories  that have happened over the past 30 years.

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