Applications Now Open for Renowned Wilderness Skills Institute Training Program

Date Published: Feb 09, 2017

BREVARD, N.C. (Feb. 9, 2017) – The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (SAWS) and the USDA Forest Service are teaming up for the seventh year in a row to hold the nationally-acclaimed Wilderness Skills Institute (WSI) on May 22-26and May 30-June 2. The training series includes a variety of instruction on basic to advanced-level skills that are necessary for working in wilderness environments.

“The Wilderness Skills Institute is one of the best training opportunities for agency employees, partners and volunteers who work in wilderness stewardship to gain not only ‘hard’ skills but also develop the relationships necessary to manage our public lands now and into the future,” said Chris Ham, southern region wilderness program manager for the Forest Service.

The training event will be held at the Cradle of Forestry in the Pisgah District of the Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, North Carolina. Courses planned for May 22-26 include crosscut saw training, wilderness first aid and CPR, Introduction to Stonework, Wilderness Stewardship and a Leave No Trace Master Educator course. The second week will focus on trail maintenance techniques, tool care and reconditioning, Wilderness stewardship performance and trail design.

Wilderness Skills Institute

The Wilderness Skills Institute will train individuals in a wide range
of skills necessary for working in wilderness areas, including
crosscut sawing and wilderness first aid. Photo by Leanna Joyner.

“The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is pleased to continue this very effective partnership which provides high-quality training for Appalachian National Scenic Trail volunteers,” said Morgan Sommerville, regional director for the ATC. “Wilderness is the best protection we can get for the A.T. Assuring skilled volunteers to manage the Trail within wilderness areas is critical to the success of both the A.T. and the wilderness itself.”

WSI courses are delivered by instructors who are experts in their field. Course participants include new and seasoned volunteers, National Forest and National Park Service personnel and staff from ATC and SAWS. Training through the Institute is provided for free to accepted students, with the notable exception of the Leave No Trace Master Educator course, which costs $400 per person. Free camping is available on site for those wishing to take advantage of the facilities.

“The Institute has not only grown to provide some of the best instruction in public land stewardship but has become a cultural hub of the wilderness and trail community, a true ’gathering’ of passionate advocates for giving back,” said Bill Hodge, executive director of SAWS.

For more information or to apply for WSI, visit

Event Overview:

Training Course: Wilderness Skills Institute 2017
Dates: May 22-26 and May 30-June 2
Location: Cradle of Forestry, 11250 Pisgah Highway, Pisgah Forest, North Carolina 28768
Tuition: Free upon acceptance into program
Application Website:
Application Deadline: March 13, 2017

Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards

About the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards

Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards is dedicated to engaging, educating and empowering a new public in the stewardship of protected public lands. For more information, visit

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