Bran Potter

Bran Potter, professor of geology at the University of the South in Sewanee, is one of many instructors for this year’s Tennessee Naturalist Program, which begins in September and is sponsored by the Friends of South Cumberland.

Registration is now open for the 2020-21 Tennessee Naturalist Program, sponsored by the Friends of the South Cumberland.

The TNP is a series of 10, four-hour classes that are designed to introduce adult learners to the natural history of Tennessee.

Graduates join a critical corps of volunteers providing nature education, outreach and service to the South Cumberland State Park.

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.

Classes and instructors

Sept 12, 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the SCSP Visitors Center: Becoming a Tennessee Naturalist with Todd Wright and Deb Dreves.

Sept 26, 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Grundy Forest Day Loop: Tennessee’s Forests with Dr. Ken Smith.

Oct 10, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.: Reptiles and Amphibians with certified Wildlife Rehabilitator Margaret Matens.

Oct 24, 5-9:30 p.m. at the Dubose Conference Center: The Nocturnal Naturalist with Dr. Richard Clements.

Nov 7, 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Grundy Forest Day Loop: Geology with Dr. Bran Potter.

Feb 6, 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the University of the South Snowden Hall Room 101: Tennessee Mammals with State Naturalist Randy Hedgepath.

Mar 13, 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., South Cumberland State Park: Trail Building.

Mar 27, 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the University of the South Spencer Hall Room 173: Forbs, Ferns and Fungi with Mary Priestley and Yolande Gottfried.

April 10, 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., University of the South Spencer Hall Room 173: Tennessee Invertebrates with Dr. Kirk Zigler.

Apr 24, 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the University of the South Snowden Hall Room 101: Tennessee’s Living Waters with Ron Ramsey.

May 15, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the SCSP Visitors Center: Tennessee Birds with Ranger Mark Taylor.

Cost and registration

The cost for the classes is $250 per person for current members of the Friends of South Cumberland State Park.

For those who are not current members, the fee is $275 per person, which includes a one-year individual membership in the Friends.

Classes are limited to 20 participants. Requirements for becoming a Tennessee Naturalist are 40 hours of instruction and 40 hours of environmentally focused volunteer service.

To register or for more information, visit www.friendsofsouthcumberland.org or send an email to todd.wright@tn.gov.

Scholarship available

A scholarship has been made available by the Friends of South Cumberland to be used by a teacher in the Grundy County School System.

To learn more about the scholarship, send an email to todd.wright@tn.gov.

The SCSP is located within four 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.

For more information, visit www.tnstateparks.com/south-cumberland.

The Friends of South Cumberland is a group of volunteer citizens dedicated to supporting the South Cumberland State Park, Tennessee’s largest state park.

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership corporation, funding for the Friends of South Cumberland is derived from individual and corporate memberships and from private donations.