Spirits were up and love was in the air as wilderness and outdoor enthusiasts traveled from over 13 states to attend the 2022 Wilderness Skills Institute. This two-week training co-hosted by SAWS, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and the U.S. Forest Service aims to build capacity in forest and wilderness stewardship in the southeast. How joyous it was to gather in-person for the best two weeks of the year. Sure, we were greeted by monsoon-like rains – for the entire week – but we didn’t let that stop us from smiling, laughing, embracing, cutting, felling, chopping, and learning. Spirts remained high (mostly) but very damp.
Participation numbers were restricted from remaining COVID-19 policy, but we enjoyed the cozy, personable atmosphere it created. Rather than the busy three to four course week, 2022 WSI offered two important and highly anticipated training courses. Week one’s courses featured CPR and Wilderness First Aid as well as an A, B, and C-level crosscut saw and axe certification. Many of these certifications were cancelled throughout the last two years, thus recertifications and new certifications are in high demand throughout the country. Week two had participants choose between a trail maintenance course and wilderness stewardship performance data collection.
This annual training takes a lot of time, thought, and sweat to plan and execute. This year, we are most proud of the leadership, expertise, and dedication of all our course trainers. Each and every one of them shared high-quality knowledge and information in a fun, warm environment. It is in an honor to learn and work alongside such talent.
Thank you to all our wonderful partners and participants who came out thirsty for forest and wilderness stewardship knowledge. And a huge thank you to the Pisgah Ranger District and FIND Outdoors for hosting this event and their continued support over the past 10 years. These two dedicated partners received the well-deserved Wilderness Primitive Skills Award for the Southern Region. Until next year!