Learn some history, safety, or what you can eat in the wild through the courses offered in the Smoky Mountain Field School. Here’s what’s happening in August:

Horace Kephart: The Back of Beyond
Sat., 8/13/2011, 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM   Fee: $49

Explore the life and writings of Horace S. Kephart, author of Our Southern Highlanders, Smoky Mountain Magic, and other works. Kephart used an old Irish phrase to describe the Smoky Mountains, calling them “the Back of Beyond.” After personal failures in St. Louis, Mo., he moved to the Smoky Mountains and spent the last 26 years of his life roaming the mountains and writing about the people and places he experienced. Examine Kephart’s role in promoting the national park idea, his influence as a writer, and his tragic death in 1931. The program begins at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center with an illustrated talk, then carpools to Bryson City, N.C., for an easy walking tour.   Instructor: Arthur “Butch” McDade.

Safety in the Backcountry
Sat., 8/13/2011, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM     Fee: $49

Each year Rangers are involved in hundreds of search and rescue operations in the Smokies and other National Parks. Almost all of these incidents result from accidents and circumstances that are avoidable, and most involve accidents and situations that are repeated over and over. Through a combination of lecture and hands-on exercises you’ll learn how to prevent accidents and protect yourself while in the backcountry, and how to be properly prepared with equipment, clothing, food, water, what to be aware of, what to avoid, safety around wildlife, and backcountry hazards. We’ll also discuss and demonstrate wilderness survival techniques to use in an emergency, and provide an introduction to legally and safely foraging for wild natural food in the National Park in order to survive a backcountry emergency.Instructor: Rick Brown.

A Book Review of Meigs Line 
Sat., 8/20/2011, 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM    Fee: $49

Join two retired park rangers, Joe Kelley and Dwight McCarter, as they review their book Meigs Line which tells of a survey line established in 1802 through what is now the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and was, at that time, the boundary between the United States and the Cherokee Nation. Over a period of 40 years, they actually travelled this boundary, and found existing tree blazes and monumentation points. They’ll share stories and special events that occurred while they worked in the Great Smokies during the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. Hear selected readings and some favorite passages from the book.  Instructors: Joseph Kelley and Dwight McCarter.

Incredible Edibles and Traditional Medicinals 
Sat., 8/27/2011, 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.Instructor: Ila Hatter.