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Wilderness education offered

Lake Tahoe Community College students will have the opportunity to learn traditional academics from Mother Nature starting Saturday with the Lake Tahoe Wilderness Institute.

The Institute is starting its fifth year under co-directors Dimitri Keriotis and Shawn Butler. Thirty-six students will embark on a seven-day camping expedition to Freel Peak to study biology, art, literature, creative writing, geology, mountaineering and wilderness medical response.

Keriotis said instructors use examples in nature to help students better understand the topics covered.



“We want our learning process to reflect the interconnectedness of the natural world,” Keriotis said. “A biology lesson will discuss what it takes any living thing to live up there. The artists will talk about how mountains inspire art.”

Keriotis will assign students readings dealing with nature by authors such as Henry David Thoreau and John Muir. He said learning traditional subjects in a wilderness environment gives students a greater appreciation for the subjects they study.



“I thrive on connecting books with the experience,” Keriotis said. “Students get so much out of it by being in the place. They understand where the inspiration comes from. We really saw more holistic learning taking place.”

Keriotis praised the college for being open to offering a program like TWI.

“You get a lot of experience-learning opportunities,” Keriotis said. “The education system of our society is not set up for it. We are fortunate because we are running this program through a community college that is devoted to innovation.”

TWI provides food, tents and stoves for the week’s outing. Participants must provide the rest of the necessary equipment for the program and be in good shape.

“The first two days are the most grueling,” Keriotis said. “They hike a little more than 10 miles over two days. We take everyone out. We send out a required equipment list. We tell students to be prepared for the unexpected.”

Keriotis said the TWI students develop a bond through their shared experience despite coming from different backgrounds.

“Every year we have teens and people up to 60 and everything in-between,” Keriotis said. “Everyone shares this common denominator of passion for the wilderness and that balances out any differences. We have never had any attitude problems.”

The TWI Back Country Program runs Saturday through July 15, with two days of orientation at LTCC and seven days at Freel Peak. TWI is also offering a weekend field trip program July 26 through 29.

For more information contact Butler or Keriotis at (530) 541-4660, ext. 525.


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