Earn college credit for hiking Appalachian Trail

Kasi Quinn did it. So did J.B. “Jason” Hibbitts. They thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail. Both also came back to Emory, Va., and reported on their hikes – even earning college credit – through a program called Semester-A-Trail at Emory & Henry College.

Jim Harrison, the college’s director of outdoor programming, calls this “a special studies opportunity that allows degree-seeking students to attempt a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail while remaining fully enrolled in an academic semester.” Harrison thru-hiked the AT in 1997.

J.B. Hibbitts, 30, relayed his experience. A resident of Bristol, Tenn., Hibbitts tore off on the trail in 2006 – restless, yet wanting to get out and see the woods of the world. A U.S. Air Force veteran, Hibbitts used the G.I. Bill to get through college. He also needed to stay in school full time, so Harrison made plans to help as Hibbitts hiked the trail.

Turns out, that’s how Semester-A-Trail was born. Today, this program is listed in the course catalog at Emory & Henry.

“The Semester-A-Trail Program offers students the opportunity to build independent studies and projects with broadened field-based implications. Student hikers have developed imaginative projects across the curriculum in ecotourism, human physiology, water quality, wellness, and photography.”

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