Tennessee is a beautiful state with a variety of water ecosystems and half of its land covered in tree habitats. With peaks higher than 6,000 feet in the east to the Mississippi River at sea level, there are six topological regions and three major ecological zones (Boreal, Deciduous Forest, Mississippi River Bottomlands). Another major ecosystem in Tennessee is comprised of the 9,600 documented caves, the largest number in the United States.
Not surprisingly, Tennesseans are interested in preserving and stewarding our many natural resources. The Department of Environment and Conservation manages a State Park system that endeavors to protect the quality of our air, land, and water; promote human health; conserve cultural and historic places; and provide enriching outdoor activities. In addition, Tennessee has one National Forest, a National Historic Site and a National Historic Park, as well as 7 National Wildlife Refuges. Concerned citizens lobby the government for environmentally friendly policies and provide programs for the public to compost, recycle, and volunteer in research projects through organizations like the Tennessee Environmental Council and the Tennessee Chapter of the Nature Conservancy.
If you want to study the environment or work outdoors several schools in Tennessee have programs that combine scientific knowledge with the practice of conservation. Roane State Community College has an Associate in Environmental Health Technology designed to give students specific job skills for the local workforce. You can also concentrate on several fields that will be foundational to degrees at other schools. The nearby University of Knoxville concentrates on conservation practices that relate to sustainable agricultural practices. They, along with UT-Chattanooga also have concentrations that focus on earth sciences and map-making issues. In addition, schools like Rhodes College, Lincoln Memorial University, and Lipscomb University integrate disciplines like sociology and fine arts to give students a holistic view of the world. Maryville College has a special emphasis on career building as well as Mountain Challenge, which takes students from any major and teaches them life skills in the great outdoors. Many of these schools are located near large farms, State Parks, or research stations that will provide you with hands-on experience anywhere you go.