Explore. Learn. Enjoy.

That’s what the Field School is all about. Below is a list of our May courses. We are featuring two new instructors and four new courses this month. Whether your interest is birding, bears, or backpacking, we have a course just for you!

Here’s what’s happening in May:

Birding in the Smokies

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

Come along and we will consider basic materials (binoculars, field guides, checklists and CDs/tapes of calls and songs) as well as non-technical methods of identifying birds by both visual clues and their distinctive vocalizations. The remainder of the morning will be devoted to birding areas in the lower elevations of the park where anticipated species will include: Bluebirds, Indigo Buntings, various swallow species, Scarlet Tanagers and others. The afternoon will be devoted to birding middle and higher elevation hardwood and spruce-fir forests where anticipated species will include: Ravens, Rosebreasted Grosbeaks and more. Instructor: George Ellison.


Early Settlers – Their Heritage and Dialect

Sat., 5/12/2012, 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM     Fee: $49

Journey back to the days of early cove and hillside settlement with award-winning author and columnist, Sam Venable in a session on mountain ways, traditions and southern Appalachian dialect. This talented speaker and writer will share his view of a past way of life as you sharpen your skills in expressing your perspective of the culture and traditions of the southern highlands. The session will include a woods walk as participants swap their stories and learn from each other. Instructor: Sam Venable.

Bears of the Smokies

Sat., 5/12/2012, 1:00 PM to 8:30 PM            Fee: $49

Learn about the life of black bears in the Smokies. This hands-on course takes participants on a moderate hike into prime black bear habitat where we’ll discover some of the secrets of the success of this shy and often reclusive large mammal–what they eat, how do they survive winter without food while giving birth to cubs, what should you do when you encounter a bear and how do they interact with other mammals. Search for bear signs and find out how our research has begun to unravel the mysteries of this unique and adaptable carnivore. We’ll convene at Tremont for a casual workshop with lots of show and tell items, discussions and pictures. Instructor: Dr. Mike Pelton.


Bears and Hogs of South Cherokee

Sat., 5/12/2012, 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.

Safety in the Backcountry     

Sat., 5/12/2012, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM            Fee: $49

 Each year hundreds of search and rescue operations result from accidents and circumstances that are avoidable. Through a combination of lecture and hands-on exercises you’ll learn the common denominator factors in most backcountry incidents, how to prevent accidents and protect yourself while in the backcountry. You’ll learn how to be properly prepared, what to be aware of, what to avoid and safety around wildlife. We’ll also discuss and demonstrate wilderness survival techniques in order to survive a backcountry emergency. Instructor: Rick Brown.

 The Natural Arches of the Big South Fork Area

Sat., 5/19/2012, 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM           Fee: $49

Explore fascinating geologic features of the North and South Arches in Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area and Natural Bridge in Pickett State Park. The Big South Fork area has a truly impressive array of natural arches/bridges within a relatively small area, making it a wonderland of geologic and scenic features. We’ll hike to and explore three large arches in the Big South Fork area. Instructor: Butch McDade.

Exploring Stream Life

Sat., 5/19/2012, 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM         Adult Fee: $35/Child Fee: $25

 Investigate the cool, clear streams of the Smokies. See if you can be the first to find a water penny on the underside of a rock or try your skill at catching fish with a seine. We’ll catch and examine some of the many organisms that live in and around the flowing waters–like salamanders, aquatic insects, crayfish and trout. Come join us in the creek! Instructor: Joyce Coombs.


Wilderness First Aid

 Sat., 5/19/2012, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM         Fee: $49

 Whether you’re hiking, biking, camping, fishing or just generally enjoying the great outdoors, accidents can happen. This class is designed to provide basic first aid procedures to handle many field emergencies. In addition to learning first aid treatment for the most common backcountry emergencies found in wilderness and remote areas, learn leadership skills in how to manage a backcountry emergency incident. These include the initial response emergency scene management and techniques for safely reaching and transporting victims. Instructor: Rick Brown.


Two Night Backpack Loop Adventure

Thur., Fri. & Sat., 5/24/2012-5/26/2012      Fee: $135

 Spend three days backpacking the remote Tremont Valley region while taking in the sights and honing your outdoor skills. This moderate, 23-mile hike makes a loop from the Tremont area and back after total elevation gains of 3,700 feet and descents totaling 2,900 feet and two nights of tent camping in primitive backcountry locations. We’ll prepare our evening meals and exchange hiking stories, then hang our food out of bear’s reach before turning in for a night filled with the sounds of the wilderness. Novices and pros alike are welcome but must be fit for the challenges of nature and terrain in the backcountry. Instructors: Joel and Kathy Zachry.