As it turns out, Emory & Henry College (E&H) -- conveniently located 25 miles west of Hungry Mother State Park -- might be the best of both worlds for Appalachian Trail (AT) thru-hikers who also want a college education.
The AT is only 15-miles from E&H.
The school provides an extensive outdoor program:
In an article posted on the E&H website back in June of 2011, the school began "a unique program that provides 12 hours of academic credit to students who attempt to hike the 2,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail."
Mom! Dad! You know how you want me to go to college ... and I want to hike the AT? Have I got good news for you!
E&H's "Semester-A-Trail" (SAT) offers course credit to students "seeking a learning experience that goes well beyond the classroom." SAT, according to the college's website, "is an intensive, goal-oriented journey that seeks to challenge students both physically and intellectually."
To join the program, first developed by Professor Jim Harrison, students must be active in the E&H Outdoor Program and have CPR and Wilderness First Aid training, along with passing E&H courses in hiking and backpacking.
Jim Harrison has been with E&H since 1998, after he thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail, along with his wife, in 1997. Since then, Jim has outfitted and assisted several E&H students on their thru-hikes.
The school's website also states,
"I wanted to move learning beyond the metaphor," said Professor Jim Harrison, who developed the program and serves as both an English professor and the director of the E&H Outdoor Leadership Program. "We talk about education as a journey and an adventure. This course offers students a very meaningful opportunity to move beyond the traditional classroom to obtain real world experiences and competencies."
Credit will be awarded in a "Nature Writing" English course, which is both a survey of nature writing and an exploration of its narrative craft. Students take the course during their semester of travel, beginning course work before embarkation and finishing work upon the completion of the hiking experience.
The Semester-A-Trail also presents students with the opportunity to build independent studies and projects with field-based implications. Independent study options being explored currently by students include art and photography projects, water quality studies and a botany study.
Coursework begins with on-campus preparation before the hike starts in March. As students trek northward from Springer Mountain in Georgia on their way to the end of the Trail at Mount Katahdin in Maine, they keep in contact with their professor by cell phone and e-mail.
We commend Emory & Henry College for this innovative, creative and ingenious way to give credit to AT thru-hikers.
Tags: Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Appalachian Trail, Hiking, and News
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