A Wild Week in the WildernessWritten by Don Hendershot
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The 22nd Annual Wilderness Wildlife Week is scheduled for Jan. 7-14 in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. This year’s Wildlife Week boasts 288 programs and activities. Likely due to the time of year (winter in the Smokies), the bulk of Wildlife Week’s program (240) are indoors. But these programs run the gamut from educational – Learn to use Map and Compass; Rock Formations of the Smokies; Geological Past of Smoky Mountains; Civil War in the Mountains; You & Me: Coexisting with Bears; Predator Paradox: Conflict & Conflict Resolution in Modern America; Saving the Endangered Whooping Crane: The Tennessee Connection and Current Status; to cultural - CADES COVE HERITAGE! Cades Cove Teachers! War within the Family: Civil War Gregorys; Marking Time: A Guide to the Historical Markers in East Tennessee; HERITAGE! Basket Making; Echoes of the Smokies: Epic of Elkmont; to entertaining - Straight from the Horse’s Mouth: A Hysterical History of Words; A Tennessee Music Sampler: Stories & Songs: Hills-N-Hollows; Old Time Music Concert: Boogertown Gap; Ballads of the Great Smoky Mountains and the Vicinity: Boogertown Gap; APPALACHIAFEST!
A Free Musical Celebration of Our Heritage.
But not to worry, 48 expert-led hikes provide ample opportunity to go walking in a winter wonderland. Some of the hikes scheduled include Metcalf Bottoms, Albright Grove, Old Sugarlands Trail, Ramsey Cascade, Owl Prowl, Elkmont Historic District, Llama Trek - Big Creek and birding Cades Cove.
This year’s event touts 120 new programs plus 20 programs aimed at kids. Some of the “Kids’ Track” programs include, “Whoo Did This?” (all about owls), “The Smoky Mountain Adventures of Bubba Jones” (hiking and camping for kids and adults), “Batteries NOT Included” (Appalachian toys and games) and “Photography for Kids and Parents.” “Kids’ Tracks” programs are available throughout the week, with multiple programs scheduled for Thursday Jan. 12 and Saturday Jan. 14.
Nature photography is also highlighted in this year’s Wildlife Week. The annual Wilderness Wildlife Week Photography Contest has been expanded this year to include seven divisions; amateur, professional, wildlife, landscapes/seascapes, youth & young adult (17 and under), Great Smoky Mountain Landmarks and Nature’s Wonders in Black & White.
Peggy Callahan, founder and executive director of the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake, Minnesota will be this year’s keynote speaker. Callahan began her biology career in Forest Lake in 1985 working with the (then) “Wolf Project.” Federal funding for the “Wolf Project” dried up and the program ended but Callahan’s passion and work didn’t as she created the non-profit Wildlife Science Center at the same site and went to work providing wildlife education and research, with an emphasis on wolves. Besides greeting more than 25,000 visitors annually, the center also trains wildlife biologists from around the world. Their trainees included the Yellowstone Wolf Recovery Team prior to the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park.
Callahan will present two programs, along with her keynote address. The first will be “Update on Ecology and Politics in the Upper Midwest” at 7:45 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 7, in the Dobro/Harp Rooms and the second will be “Conflict & Conflict Resolution in Modern America at 6:45 p.m. Jan. 8 in the same venue.
Wilderness Wildlife Week is a free event. All workshops, programs and lectures are held at Music Road Hotel & Convention Center, 303 Henderson Chapel Road Pigeon Forge, Tenn. All hike and field trip sign-ups will be at the Holiday Inn Express right across the street from the convention center.
For information regarding Wilderness Wildlife Week visit http://www.mypigeonforge.com/events_winterfest_wilderness.aspx or call 1.800.251.9100.