2015 Wilderness Skills Institute Applications Due Soon

Published Feb 18, 2015

Wilderness Skills Institute logo

Wilderness Skills Institute logo

Our friends with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), U.S. Forest Service and the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (SAWS) encourage anyone interested in attending the 2015 Wilderness Skills Institute programs to apply before February 25th.

A few spots will be reserved for stragglers, according to Brenna Irrer with SAWS. The first round of applicants will be reviewed soon and will be notified of their status by February 27th.

The Wilderness Skills Institute holds two weeks of training -- from May 18-25th -- at the Cradle of Forestry facility outside of Brevard, North Carolina, on the Pisgah Ranger District of the Pisgah National Forest.

Free training through the Institute is provided for students who are accepted. Free camping is available on site for those wishing to take advantage of the facilities. The Institute is a priceless way to connect with Wilderness stewards inside and outside of classroom settings.

Wilderness work requires a special scope of skills, so the program is designed to provide trainees with opportunities for growth in specific skill sets. The two-week courses offer educational and skill certification in areas designed for those new to wilderness stewardship and those who have been participating for years.

2015 Wilderness Skill Institute Courses

Week One

Wilderness First Aid Certification

  • Lead Instructor: Landmark Learning
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Dates: May 18-20, 2015

The Wilderness First Aid (WFA) course will help you prepare for the unexpected. This fast-paced, hands on training is designed to meet the needs of trip leaders, camp staff, outdoor enthusiasts, and individuals working in remote locations. It will introduce you to caring for people who become ill or injured far from definitive medical care.

Classroom lectures and demonstrations are combined with realistic scenarios where mock patients will challenge you to integrate your learning. At the end of the course, you'll have the knowledge, skills and ability to make sound decisions in emergency situations.

A/B Crosscut Certification

  • Lead Instructor: Carl Deitz, U.S. Forest Service
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Dates: May 21-22, 2015

The A/B Crosscut Certification Course provides students with both classroom-based instruction and field experience in the use of the crosscut saws and axes. Students will learn how to safely utilize these tools in a trail maintenance capacity.

The course will cover tool history, best practices in the field, one-on-one instruction in tool use in the field, tool care, safety, and transportation of the tools. Successful completion of this course is required to legally use these tools on national forest lands while participating in stewardship efforts.

Certification is a product of completion of this course and the ability to demonstrate safe and competent use of both the crosscut saw and axe.

C Crosscut Certification

  • Lead Instructor: Carl Deitz, U.S. Forest Service
  • Skill Level: Advanced
  • Dates: May 18-22, 2015

This course will provide seasoned and advanced sawyers a training platform to build skills to become certified C Sawyers, an advanced sawyer level that can teach and certify new and intermediate sawyers in the classroom and in the field.

Students will build a broad array of techniques to impart the skills needed to safely and effectively utilize crosscut saws, axes, and related equipment. Students will also learn advanced techniques in the use of these tools, including felling techniques. Students in the course will assist with the A/B Crosscut Certification course upon receiving their C Sawyer Certification.

The course is limited to advanced sawyers who are committed to becoming active trainers and have the support of their federal land management agency.

Wilderness Stewardship

  • Lead Instructor: Jimmy Gaudry, U.S. Forest Service
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Dates: May 18-22, 2015

This course is designed for field-going volunteers and staff who interact with the general public. Students will learn about field safety, public encounters, Leave No Trace, and wilderness history, policy and law. You'll cover basic skills for being safe while working in a public contact capacity.

Week Two: May 26-29, 2015

Trail Maintenance

  • Lead Instructor: Appalachian Trail Conservancy
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Dates: May 26-29, 2015

This course is designed for those new to stewarding public lands, or those wishing to revisit basic principles of trail maintenance and mitigating visitor use impacts.

Students will learn design and maintenance standards for trails, maintenance techniques, tool use, safety in the field, and planning field days for volunteers and/or staff. Techniques for brushing a trail corridor, reestablishing trail tread, mitigating erosion impacts, maintaining trail structures, and other similar topics will be covered.

Wilderness Visitor Use Management

  • Lead Instructor: Jimmy Gaudry, U.S. Forest Service
  • Skill Level: Intermediate/Advanced
  • Dates: May 26-29, 2015

This session will address wilderness visitor use and recreational impacts.

Students will discuss the requirement that wilderness provide "outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation" under the Wilderness Act and what that means. Students will spend time in the field assessing high use sites and visitor use management issues. Students will use their assessments in discussing and designing solutions.

Advanced Trail Structures

  • Lead Instructors: Chris Ingui & Artie Hidalgo, Jolly Rovers
  • Skill Level: Intermediate/Advanced
  • Dates: May 26-29, 2015

This course will focus on utilizing stone as a building material in providing solutions for numerous trail problems, such as stabilizing muddy areas, crossing seasonal streams, ascending steep slopes and reducing grade to prevent erosion.

Students will be introduced to the various uses of stone in trail work, including the reasoning and construction concepts behind basic stone steps, check dams, turnpikes, stepping stones, paving and crib walls. Illustrations of these concepts will be made available to the class 2015 Course Descriptions 4 along with explanations of the construction practices necessary to build them.

Afterward, students will learn the use of mechanical advantage using rock bars and pick mattocks along with the techniques of stone shaping using hammers, chisels and wedges to create usable building materials. Students will utilize these skills in assessing project site on the trail before designing and implementing solutions.

To Apply for the 2015 Wilderness Skills Institute

  1. Please read the course descriptions carefully before completing the online application form using the links below.
  2. Accepted students must be present for the full duration of each course they attend.
  3. The first round of applicants will be reviewed at the end of February and will be notified of their status by February 27, 2015.
  4. If you have any questions regarding the application process, please contact: Brenna Irrer at brennairrer@trailcrews.org.

2015 Wilderness Skills Institute Course Descriptions

2015 Wilderness Skills Institute Application

Tags: Events, Appalachian Trail, News, US Forest Service, Appalachian Trail Conference, Conservation, and Safety

About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.
Related Articles

Published Feb 22, 2016. Be a paid intern, hike the Appalachian Trail and work to broaden its relevancy ... with Julie Judkins? Yes, please!

Jennifer Pharr Davis will teach her second Appalachian Trail Institute in Hot Springs, NC, at Laughing Heart Lodge from January 20-14, 2016.

You can hike the entire Appalachian Trail through the wilderness or you can drive from town to town partying at fun Appalachian Trail events. Choose wisely.

Published Aug 16, 2014.

Published Jul 30, 2015. The goals common to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and Baxter State Park are similar but are they compatible? Can their paths merge atop Mt. Katahdin?