We met early Friday morning and after stashing our gear at Walker Grove Tent Village, we reconvened in the outdoor Friendship Circle for curriculum sharing. We had an activity with a Park Ranger that involved leaf litter and critters. After lunch we were welcomed by Tiffany Beachy, a Tremont educator, and given a geology overview before we hiked to Spruce Flats Falls. On the hike we did some tree identification which culminated in our watching a black snake climb from a fallen tree trunk to and through smaller trees. It was more exciting than prime time. The falls were great, but we were all wondering if we would see the snake on our return hike and would it fall on our heads!?
After dinner we met again at the Friendship Circle for a night hike. No light sources were permitted. This allowed us to view glow worms and to further test our senses. After going slowly up one trail, feeling our way with our feet and holding hands and/or shoulders, consensus was that we did NOT like night hiking! We also learned we could not identify colors at night and that Wintergreen Life Savers spark when bitten!
After breakfast on our second day, Javier Folgar, AT’s Marketing and Communication Manager, gave us an informative presentation about working with the media. He was able to answer our questions and concerns and had good examples to share. Next, we Skyped with Pat Woods about grad credit projects. We enjoyed a presentation from our 2008 TTEC alumni about their TTEC project. Talk about partnering…they made it real. After lunch we met with folks from the Rocky Top maintaining crew. It was interesting to learn the tools they use and the scope of their work.
Unbeknown to us, while we listened to the Rocky Top crew leaders, our 2008 TTEC alumni—Kate Fisher, Becky LedBetter, and Jan Onan—were preparing the closing ceremony. As we entered the Friendship Circle, we chose a rock to build a cairn because we all build on the work of others. Then we were given a candle to light our candle and pass on to another, sharing the light. Julie Judkins presented the new TTEC graduate their certificates. Everyone shared some closing comments. And, so it was with warmth and friendship we ended our workshop in the Smokies.
Hope to see everyone next July in the Whites! Because what nature lover would miss that?!?
Sharon Van Horn