Whilst hiking along the Appalachian Trail (AT), two Emory & Henry College (E&H) students earned credits studying in the great outdoors.
They participated in the Emory & Henry College Semester-A-Trail Program. It’s the only program in the United States that offers college credit for thru-hiking or other prepared hikes on the A.T. with an academic component and training.
The Semester-A-Trail is part of its unique Outdoor Program that also offers an Adventure Team to students to rock climb, kayak, hike, and more. Students are professionally trained and certified as part of select programs.
The program is open to all college students around the globe. Students are welcome to transfer to Emory & Henry for a semester to engage in a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ experience while earning credits in a field of interest. Faculty from both colleges work together to set the curriculum and outcomes.
E&H sophomore Sadie Burton and junior Tilghman Moyer shared their experiences along the trail during spring semester 2019 in a video. It was the first time both students hiked a portion of the trail to earn hands-on credit.
Burton focused her journey on creative writing and photography with the goal of producing a documentary and Moyer developed a project in phenology, studying plant and animal life cycle events along the A.T.
Jim Harrison, director of outdoor programs, said, “This is the definition of exceptional hands-on learning in a gorgeous outdoor lab. Both students trained and learned how to hike the trail to be prepared. Prior to the trip, they learned wilderness first aid techniques and received instruction on packing, eating, safety and mental wellness. Being on the trail for long periods of time can be physically and mentally challenging, yet so rewarding.”
Burton logged 400 miles and ended her section in Damascus, Va. and Moyer completed his thru-hike of 2,190 miles and ended at Mt. Katahdin at Baxter Peak, the northern terminus of the A.T. Stats show only one in every four hikers accomplish a thru-hike and it usually takes five to six months. Moyer finished in five months.
“We’re 14 miles from the A.T. and our students are blessed not solely to hike, but kayak in all sorts of rivers and lakes; go bouldering and rock climbing, and take in all of the natural beauty in Southwest Virginia,” added Harrison.