We are excited to introduce two new instructors to the Smoky Mountain Field School this month:  David Whitehead is a wildlife manager for TWRA and will teach about bears and wild hogs of the South Cherokee Wildlife area.  Also, Bill Landry, well-known host of the Heartland Series, is offering a new course, “Stories, Tales and Adventures.”

Whether your interest is in wildflowers or day hiking, storytelling or bear management, we have a course just for you!

Here’s what’s happening in April:

The Perfect Hike

Sat., 4/14/2012, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM            Fee: $49

If you enjoy seeing waterfalls (there are two on this hike), vistas, old farms, home sites, unique geologic features and spring wildflowers, then this is your kind of hike! Come along with a seasoned backcountry ranger and learn about the natural beauty and splendor of the wilderness. If the weather cooperates, this feature-packed trip will truly be “The Perfect Hike.” Instructor: Ronnie Click is a retired ranger having spent his career as an interpreter, backcountry law enforcement ranger and water quality control specialist. Today he enjoys his passion for educating youth by teaching locally.

Hug a Tree

Sat., 4/14/2012, 9:30 AM to 1:30 PM            Adult Fee: $29 / Child Fee: $19

 Kids are curious; kids get lost. This program is set up to teach children what to do in case they get lost or separated during a family outing. Bring your family and join your instructor for a day of informative safety tips and illustrations for parents and kids on how to enjoy the outdoors safely. Instructor: Joey Holt grew up in the foothills of the Smokies. He has been a lover of the outdoors all his life enjoying activities such as camping and hiking. He serves on the board for the Appalachian Bear Rescue.

Wilderness Wildflowers-Marvels of Spring

Sat., 4/14/2012, 9:0  AM to 5:00 PM             Fee: $49

There is no greater sight to behold than the rainbow of colors from spring’s emerging wildflowers found in the Smokies. Take easy to moderate walks along footpaths bordered with many of these first beauties. We should see varieties of trillium; patches of bluets; carpeted hillsides of fringed phacelia and favorites like little common jug, jack-in-the-pulpit, toothwort, hepatica and several common non-flowering plants. This is an ideal outing for families with attentive youth and a passion for learning. Instructors: Joel and Kathy Zachry have been instructors since 1980 and 1983, respectively. They are husband and wife naturalists and the field school program managers. They are the owners/guides of Great Outdoors! Adventure Travel, completed section-hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2005 and co-authored the book, Bears We’ve Met-Short Stories of Close Encounters.


Stories, Tales and Adventures

Sat., 4/21/2012, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM                        Fee: $49

Bring a sack lunch and join Bill Landry for a day of adventure and learning about our southern Appalachian heritage. Sort out old sayings, stories and tales, in a backcountry setting where nature abounds. We’ll find an old rock wall or cabin porch to sit upon or walk and talk down a quiet path, probably both. Time will be spent exploring the origins of mountain remedies and cures, folkways, travels, people and adventures through the eyes, experiences and stories from the host of the Heartland Series and author of the new Appalachian Tales & Heartland Adventures. Instructor: Bill Landry, a native of East Tennessee, hosted the award-winning Heartland Series for twenty-five years earning four Emmys for Knoxville’s WBIR television station. Landry serves as the East Tennessee representative on the Tennessee Historical Commission.

Wildflowers and Trees-A Family Affair

Sat., 4/21/2012, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM            Adult Fee: $35 / Child Fee: $25

 Explore the dozens of wildflowers and flowering trees that bring the Smokies to life in the spring. We’ll use hands-on folk-lore, plant uses, pollinators and habitat to give each flower new meaning, and not just a name. We’ll also learn some basics of wildflower and tree identification and discover the diversity within several rich forest types along easy trails. For children of all ages, whatever critter is found will be examined. Instructor: Carey Jones is a former park ranger-naturalist who has led walks in the Smokies for many years. Always the seeker and discoverer, his experience and M.A. help glean truths from nature to share with fellow learners.

Spring Wildflower and Nature Photography

Sat., 4/21/2012, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM            Fee: $65

If you want to develop your technical and visual skills in nature photography, this workshop is for you! We’ll concentrate on the two main subjects of spring photography in the Smokies: wildflowers and landscapes. The principles of composition, perspective, exposure, light and proper use of equipment will be covered during this workshop. Classroom instruction is held during the morning and field instruction during the afternoon. This workshop is applicable to both digital and 35mm SLR formats. Instructor: Kendall Chiles is a freelance nature photographer with more than 25 years of photography experience. His photos have appeared in numerous books, magazines and brochures and he has taught various photography workshops for many years.


Bears and Hogs of South Cherokee

Sat., 4/21/2012, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM          Fee: $49

Learn the biology, life history, management objectives and the challenges of managing black bears and wild hogs on the south Cherokee Wildlife Management Area. We’ll discuss the challenges of a growing population of both bears and hogs and what we need to do to control them. We’ll also take a short hike to explore for signs and possibly see a bear or hog. So come prepared for a full day of fun and information. Instructor: David Whitehead has a B.S. in wildlife and fisheries science at the University of Tennessee. He is a wildlife manager for Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and manages the Tellico Lake and the south Cherokee Wildlife Management areas in Monroe County.