Smoky Mountain Field School

The Smoky Mountain Field School has a number of new offerings in 2012. Find out more about thes new, interesting experiences:

Stories, Tales and Adventures – The Appalachian Way – 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. April 21, June 2 & August 4

Early Settlers – Their Heritage and Dialect – 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. May 12 & June 16

Early Settler Mountain Cooking – Join Walter Lambert and friends for a fun day of southern Appalachian style cooking in the midst of the Great Smokies. Chef Walter will share his knowledge of ‘old-timey delights’ with participants as he cooks with a Dutch oven and a blackened iron skillet or two. June 23 & September 8


Naturalist Workshop and Day Hike – Join thirty-year veteran Field School instructors, Joel and Kathy Zachry, for a day (morning workshop followed by hike) packed with stories, information and examples of the diversity of nature found within our Smokies. After learning about intriguing plants and animal life and how to avoid dangerous encounters, we’ll head outside and put the newly-learned skills to good use. We’ll search for overturned rocks and logs, tracks, scat piles and other evidence of who lives among these mountains while we exchange ideas on gear and our favorite trails. June 16

Wilderness First Aid – 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.  May 19

Bears and Hogs of South Cherokee – Learn the biology, life history, management objectives and the challenges of managing black bears and wild hogs on the south Cherokee Wildlife Management Area.
April 21 & May 12



The University of Tennessee has had a close relationship with Appalachian Bear Rescue since its inception in the early 1990s.  University staff and graduates have served as board members and advisers and the School of Veterinary Medicine has provided veterinary care for numerous bears, offering student veterinarians a rare and valuable opportunity to practice their skills and learn from these wild animals.

ABR operating as a 501 © 3 non-profit organization takes in orphaned and injured black bear cubs for rehabilitation.  Eligible bears are released back into the wild as soon as they are in good health and in accordance with guidelines established by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.  Many of the regional wildlife officers and Smokies park staff who transport the bears to and from the operation are also graduates of the university.  A record number of bear cubs (23) have been housed at the facility this fall due to a failure in the mast or food crop.

You have a unique opportunity to support our relationship with ABR by voting for their opportunity to acquire up to $100,000 through the Chase Community Giving program.  They need every vote possible as the program comes to a close tomorrow, Tuesday, November 22nd at Noon EST, so time is of the essence.

The contest is on Facebook and sponsored by Chase Community Giving. (You have to accept a Chase app in order to vote – it’s easy!)

Click HERE

Please share this email with anyone that will vote and help these magnificent symbols of wilderness continue to thrive!  Thank You Very Much.

– Joel and Kathy Zachry, Program Managers, Smoky Mountain Field School

October is the perfect time to get outdoors and enjoy the beautiful Smoky Mountains as they shine with brilliant fall colors.  Sign up for a Smoky Mountain Field School course and learn something while you’re there!

Incredible Edibles and Traditional Medicinals
Sat., 10/8/2011, 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.

Edible and Poisonous Fungi of the Smokies
Sat., 10/8/2011, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM           Fee: $49
The Smoky Mountains are world-renowned for mushrooms and home to more than 2,000 species. Here’s a chance to learn about the many kinds of mushrooms and how to identify them by size, shape, and color. We’ll take short hikes in the Park to observe mushrooms in their natural habitat. Through these field explorations, we’ll learn about the ecology and habitats for mushrooms, toxicology, and the association between fungi and tree roots. The workshop is designed for beginners, but veterans will learn something, too.

Fruit, Foliage, and Fall Wildlife
Sat., 10/15/2011, 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM         Fee: $49
Discover the magic of fall in the Smokies as we seek out the many colorful fruits and leaves of the mountains, and carefully consider the wildlife they attract. On several short walks at various elevations and habitats, we’ll learn to identify the trees, shrubs, and vines in part by their unique colored leaves and fruit, as well as by other simple clues. We’ll also discover signs of wildlife that rely on this fruit to fuel their migration and movements, or to supplement their resident diet. These birds, bears, boomers, boars, and other animals make up the fall wildlife shuffle, a natural necessity.

Introduction to Orienteering
Sat., 10/22/2011, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM         Fee: $49
In the simplest terms, orienteering is the process of using a map and compass to travel from one place to another. Traditionally, orienteering has been associated with competitive events where participants race cross country with map and compass to find targets in the shortest period of time. Through lectures, classroom activities, and field exercises, you’ll learn the fundamental skills of both competitive and wilderness orienteering.

Advanced Wilderness Orienteering
Sun., 10/23/2011, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM        Fee: $49
If you have some outdoor and/or orienteering experience, here’s a chance to get in-depth instruction on using a map and compass to navigate in remote areas. Lectures and classroom exercises will emphasize the advanced aspects of map reading, using an orienteering compass, declination, route projection, and improvisation. Practical field exercises will enable you to learn first-hand how to navigate from one point to another in the wilderness. Prerequisite: Introduction to Orienteering.

Fall Nature Photography
Sat., 10/22/2011, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM         Fee: $65
Learn techniques for designing photographs of combined subjects such as landscape, waterscapes, and fall color. We’ll use composition, perspective, light, and exposure to develop our images and will learn the technical manipulations of the equipment that are necessary to obtain the desired results. This workshop is applicable to both digital and 35mm SLR format. You should bring a variety of lenses and a tripod.

Animal Tracking and Nature Observation
Sun., 10/23/2011, 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM        Fee: $49
Every clue or sign that an animal leaves behind is a track. Tracking is an ancient skill, but for us it can open up a whole new world. We don’t have to see the animals to tell that they were there, what they were doing, and when they may come back. We’ll learn their stories from the traces they have left behind. Slow down, look closer, ask a lot of questions, and accept the challenge of tracking in the Smokies. You may be surprised by what you find. The course is open to anyone 12 and older. Anyone ages 12-17 must be accompanied by an adult. 

Mt. LeConte Hike and Overnight in the Lodge

Sat., 10/29/2011-10/30/2011           Fee: $175
Since its establishment in the 1920s, LeConte Lodge has been a rustic attraction for hikers. At an elevation of 6,360 feet, it is the highest guest lodge in the eastern United States.The mountaintop serves as a grandstand for the whole Park, and the pleasures of a visit to the lodge can include breathtaking sunsets from Cliff Top, clear night skies for stargazing, and spectacular sunrises from Myrtle Point. This is a strenuous hike. The trails are steep and rocky and range from 5 to 8 miles each way. You need to be in good physical condition ready for a rigorous climb. We suggest you sign up with an old friend, or be prepared to bunk with a new one! In the fall, we’ll go up via Rainbow Falls Trail and descend via Bull Head Trail. The brilliant fall foliage will be at its best, laid out in panoramic vistas.

UT Non-Credit’s resident Graphic Artist Pat Alley recently spent an afternoon in 3rd grade. Pat was asked to teach basic drawing to Carolyn Beal’s 3rd grade students at Hardin Valley Elementary School. The students learned that you can use basic shapes to draw almost anything imaginable. All it takes is a little practice, the ability to accept mistakes and a big imagination. They were then challenged to draw their favorite object and present it to the rest of the class. Some outstanding imagination and drawing skills were on display. The 3rd graders were so inspired that they invited Pat back to teach a special project for Halloween.


That’s what the Field School is all about. Below is a list of our September courses.  Whether your interest is elk or butterflies, maps and compass, or Cherokees or dayhiking, we have a course just for you!

Here’s what’s happening in September:

Bringing Them Back to the Smokies: Elk, Otters, Falcons and Wolves   – **NEW INSTRUCTOR**
Sat., 9/10/2011, Noon to 8:00 PM               Fee: $49

Learn about the successes and failures of wildlife restoration programs in the Smokies. Are there any wolves in the Smokies? Where can I see a peregrine falcon? Where do otters live? How did elk get here? Come, see, and hear bull elk bugling, sparing, and working to protect their harems. What happens if elk leave the Park? How do we capture and monitor elk? Learn about radio telemetry tracking techniques and capturing newborn calves. Learn the specifics on how elk have been managed since their release in 2000.

Introduction to Map and Compass 
Sat., 9/17/2011, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM      Fee: $49

This course includes an introduction to the use of a forester’s compass and a basic understanding of reading a topographical map as used by land managing agencies for control and management of emergency incidents. This will be done through lecture, classroom activity, and outdoor exercise.

Advanced Use of Map and Compass
Sun., 9/18/2011, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM          Fee: $49

This course will be an in-depth instruction of map and compass skills by incorporating the use of the forester’s compass and the 7.5 topographical map series of the U.S.G.S. to conduct a simulator multiagency search and rescue exercise in basically a “table-top” format. The team approach will be used. Prerequisite: Introduction to Map and Compass.

A Smoky Mountain Day Hike 
Sun., 9/18/2011 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM           Fee: $49

Take a walk in the woods that will highlight many of the delightful aspects of these diverse mountains. In a moderate, 7-mile hike, we’ll have views, see big trees, encounter bear signs, rock hop a stream, witness old homesteads, and meander through quiet coves. There is some uphill climbing at first, but most of this hike is gentle and easy with views and a variety of plants that make the effort all worth it.

A Day with a Naturalist
Sat., 9/24/2011, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM           Fee: $49

Spend a day with an experienced field naturalist exploring the natural heritage of the Great Smokies. Learn about the geologic origins of the Appalachians and the Smokies’ exact place in the Blue Ridge Province. Visit various habitats like cove and northern hardwood forests, identifying distinctive birds, trees, wildflowers, and ferns associated with each. Discuss Park Service attempts to contain the adelgid that infests Fraser fir and other threats like the European wild boar and various “exotic” plants.  Walk along the moderate Kephart Prong Trail.  Then view the natural world of the Smokies with new eyes.

Elk in the Smokies 
Sat., 9/24/2011, 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM            Fee: $49

Come and learn about the experimental elk release in Great Smoky Mountains National Park! Elk have been extinct in North Carolina and Tennessee for approximately 150 years, but they roam again now in the valleys of Cataloochee in Western North Carolina. We’ll view elk and their behaviors during the mating season, hear bugling, and learn how researchers track and monitor elk in the Smokies.

Ancient Mountaineers: Cherokees of the Southern Appalachians
Sat., 9/24/2011, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM           Fee: $49

The southern Appalachians have been inhabited by human beings for more than 12,000 years. Learn about the archaeological record of these mountains and the cultural history of the peoples who have inhabited them. Morning classroom instruction will focus on archaeology and the material culture of this region, culminating with a discussion of historic and contemporary Cherokee life in these mountains. Themes will include subsistence, settlement, and indigenous adaptation to sustained European presence. Take an afternoon excursion to several North Carolina sites where some of the archaeological investigations of the region will be detailed.

Butterflies and Flutterbies
Sun., 9/25/2011, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM          Fee: $49

Spend a delightful day out in a field in Cades Cove. This is a wonderful time of year to explore this interesting, diverse habitat and for identifying butterflies. We’ll learn about the signs left by animals, the flowers that are currently blooming, the changes taking place during the fall season while also learning about the various butterfly families and their natural history. Identify all butterfly species in order to contribute to the park’s ongoing inventory and monitoring efforts. Overall, it will be a great way to experience the Cove in a hands-on and personal way.

Last week the Smoky Mountain Field School spent a few days at the Land and Wildlife Expo at Gaylord Opryland in Nashville.  The Expo is a three-day event with the nation’s leading experts in land conservation and wildlife management. It brought in people from all over the entire United States. Guests who stopped by the SMFS table traveled from as far away as Alaska, Florida, New York and Texas.

While in the Nashville area, SMFS also met with the eight-county Sierra Club at Radnor Lake State Natural Area. SMFS Co-director Joel Zachary said, “I had a very enthusiastic crowd that showed considerable interest.”


This trip to Nashville is a first of many for the SMFS. The overwhelming interest in programs was very encouraging.

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.

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