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Tennessee Naturalist Program at SCSP

Posted on Friday, July 6, 2018 at 10:55 am

Hikers celebrate graduation from the 2017-18 Tennessee Naturalist Program with a hike to Denny Falls on June 23. Denny Cove was recently added to the South Cumberland State Park through a partnership with the state and the Southeastern Climbers Coalition

Registration is now open for the Tennessee Naturalist Program at South Cumberland State Park.

Those who complete the requirements of the 10-session program and complete 40 hours of service to environmentally-focused organizations become certified Tennessee Naturalists.

The 10, four-hour sessions run from September to May with meetings averaging once a month, usually on Saturday mornings. The classwork is divided between lectures, hands-on activities, and many hours of outdoor immersion. Topics include local geology, forests, animals, plants, fungi, aquatic biology and astronomy. The fieldwork portion of the course can be physically demanding with hikes on steep hills and rough terrain and some night activities.

Among those who serve as volunteer instructors are State Naturalist Randy Hedgepath; Sewanee professors Bran Potter, Ken Smith and Kirk Zigler; Sewanee Herbarium Curators Mary Priestley and Yolande Gottfried; TWRA rehabilitator Margaret Matens; and rangers Jessie McNeel, Jason Reynolds, Philip Hylen and Mark Taylor, and former St. Andrews-Sewanee instructor Ron Ramsey.

The TNP is an education training course designed to introduce the natural history of Tennessee to interested adults, with chapters across the state. Graduates join a critical corps of volunteers providing nature education, outreach, and service to the park.

Participants receive a field notebook, hand lens, and a jump drive containing all class materials. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. Tennessee State Parks hosts Tennessee Naturalist Program chapters at Cedars of Lebanon State Park, Cumberland Mountain State Park and South Cumberland State Park. There is a fee for the course.

For more information, visit