The Friends of South Cumberland is proud to offer the Tennessee Naturalist Program to its friends and neighbors. TNP is a series of ten four-hour classes designed to introduce adult learners to the natural history of Tennessee. Graduates join a state-wide corps of Tennessee Naturalist volunteers providing education, outreach, and service dedicated to the appreciation, understanding, and beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities.
South Cumberland State Park is located within four different Tennessee counties: Grundy, Franklin, Marion and Sequatchie. The park is composed of approximately 30,845 acres in nine separate areas and boasts some of the best hiking and backcountry camping in the region.
Classes are scheduled in two semesters, from September to November and February to May, and are usually held on Saturday mornings. The classwork is divided between lectures, hands-on activities and many hours of outdoor immersion. Topics include geology, forests, plants, mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, aquatic ecosystems, trail building and interpretation. The fieldwork portion of the course can be physically demanding, with off-trail hikes on steep hills and rough terrain, and some night activities.
Cancellations and Refunds: Cancellations up to 14 days prior to start of the course may receive full refunds. Within 14 days, partial refunds (up to 50%) may be given. Once the course begins, refunds will not be given for any reason.
Among those who have served as volunteer instructors are Tennessee State Naturalist Randy Hedgepath; Sewanee professors Bran Potter, Ken Smith, Scott Torreano and Kirk Zigler; Sewanee Herbarium Curators Mary Priestley and Yolande Gottfried; Chattanooga State professor Richard Clements, TWRA certified animal rehabilitator Margaret Matens; Tennessee State Park Rangers Jessie McNeel, Jason Reynolds, Philip Hylen and Mark Taylor; and former St. Andrews-Sewanee instructor Ron Ramsey. This outstanding group of educators and naturalists makes each session lively and memorable.
All classes will adhere to CDC guidelines regarding Covid-19, with social distancing and mask requirements in place during indoor classroom instruction.