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.