Greetings from Highlands, NC

I’m at the Highlands Biological Station (4118 ft) in Highlands, NC for the next two weeks, teaching my field course, Forest Ecosystems of the Southern Appalachians with my two co-instructors, Julie Tuttle and Alan Weakley. This is easily one of the best things I do for what I call work.

I was a student in this course in 1999, when it was taught by Tom Wentworth, Dan Pittillo, and Peter White. I have been teaching the class, first with Tom, since 2005, and this will be my fifth time teaching. In 2013, Tom retired from teaching the course and I invited Julie and Alan to teach it with me, and I’m thrilled that they are back for another adventure.

Why is this the best teaching I do? Field station summer courses immerse students in the natural environment; our classroom includes some of the most wondrous sites in the southern Appalachian mountains. Classes are small and a tight-knit community develops; 14 people who think of nothing else but the topic at hand for two weeks. I learn at least as much as I share, and finish the course exhausted to the bone but rejuvenated in mind and spirit.

Internet service is spotty in the mountains, but I hope once again to post a daily-ish photo of our adventures in Forest Ecosystems. My goals are as follows: 1) Highlight the incredible biodiversity of the southern Appalachians, 2) Give a window into the workings of an intensive field course, 3) Champion the unique experience that a field station environment offers.

2013 Forest Ecosystems. There's nothing like 14 inches of rain in 2 weeks for bonding.

2013 Forest Ecosystems, Hooper Bald on the Cherohala Skyway. There’s nothing like 14 inches of rain in 2 weeks to build team rapport and create lasting bonds!

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