Pellissippi State hosts author/naturalist Joel Zachry for bear lecture

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female and male hiking with sign
Author and naturalist Joel Zachry and his wife, Kathy, are pictured at the Appalachian Trail terminus, Mount Katahdin in Maine.

Bear encounters are the topic of the day for “You and Me Coexisting With Bears,” a lecture at Pellissippi State Community College featuring Joel Zachry, a hiker, author and naturalist.

Zachry, who wrote “Bears We’ve Met: Short Stories of Close Encounters” with his wife, Kathy, delivers the lecture beginning at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17. The presentation—one activity in a yearlong schedule of events tied to Pellissippi State’s 2013-2014 Common Book, “A Walk in the Woods,” by Bill Bryson—takes place in the Goins Building Auditorium on the Hardin Valley Campus. The community is invited to the free event.

“In my presentation,” said Zachry, “I’ll speak a bit about ‘A Walk in the Woods’ and compare my experiences hiking the Appalachian Trail to what the book says—from the mistakes they made, and that we made, to the people they met along the way.

“If you hike the Appalachian Trail, you get the best education you could get. It’s an activity of enrichment: you learn so much about yourself and about America.”

black bear
Appalachian Bear Rescue, of which speaker Joe Zachry is a board member, rehabilitates injured and orphaned black bears so they can be returned to the wild.

Zachry, who is on the board of directors for Appalachian Bear Rescue, also will speak about ABR and his own experiences meeting bears on hiking trails.

As this year’s Common Book, “A Walk in the Woods” will serve to inspire discussions on topics as wide ranging as ecology, biological diversity, the effects of tourism, the importance of outdoor activity and the tradition of nature writing.

In his first-person narrative, Bryson recounts his tale of hiking the Appalachian Trail and reflects on the many emotions, logistical problems, and incidents hikers might expect. The account also reflects on the history of the AT and National Park Service, the depredations of disease and insects on trees and plants, the need for environmental awareness and stewardship, and the ever-present threat of bears.

Zachry formerly taught biology at Pellissippi State. He is an avid hiker and naturalist and has been program director of the University of Tennessee and Park Service’s Smoky Mountain Field School since 2011. The Zachrys also own Great Outdoors! Adventure Travel. Joel Zachry has section-hiked the entirety of the AT, completing the trail in 2005.

Appalachian Bear Rescue is a black bear rehabilitation facility. It seeks to return orphaned, injured and medically needy black bears back to the wild. For more information, visit

For more information about Common Book programs, contact Pellissippi State at (865) 694-6400 or visit To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources at (865) 694-6607 or