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YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. — Young Harris College is one of 17 institutions selected to participate in the Appalachian Regional Commission’s (ARC) Appalachian Teaching Project (ATP). ATP is an applied research training program during which students work with communities to address needs affecting long-term economic development. Participating students spend a semester developing projects to meet those needs, which they present at ARC’s annual ATP Symposium.

YHC’s project, entitled “An Interpretive Trail to Highlight the Natural and Cultural Significance of Cupid Falls,” was selected through a competitive application process. This fall, students from courses in art, biology, environmental science, and Appalachian studies will collaborate together and in consultation with the City of Young Harris to design an interpretive trail for Cupid Falls Park that incorporates place-based and culturally relevant artwork and signage depicting its natural and cultural assets. This project capitalizes on an ongoing initiative by the City of Young Harris to develop infrastructure for the park that facilitates safe, responsible, and meaningful community use.

“After spending most of my career focused on education in Appalachia, I can say that there isn’t anything quite like ARC’s Appalachian Teaching Project,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “I believe in leveraging the creativity, ingenuity, and potential from within our region to enhance economic vitality. The ATP builds the next generation of leaders through hands-on, applicable work to help solve real problems in our communities.”

YHC’s project will join a body of student work that spans more than 20 years. In that time, ATP has helped at least 2,350 students from 29 Appalachian institutions respond to a wide range of issues including downtown revitalization, tourism development, cultural heritage, water quality, education, health and wellness, food insecurity, leadership development, and the opioid crisis. These projects have resulted in lasting benefits, such as community kitchens and gardens, hiking and walking trails, community theater productions, public art installations, collections of oral history and historical artifacts, promotional materials, websites, training programs, local school programming, strategic plans and grant applications, and much more.

“The ATP offers students an engaging and hands-on experiential learning opportunity in which they experience course themes and develop course-based knowledge and skills, while also serving and impacting their community in a meaningful way,” said Dr. Johnathan Davis, a biology professor and one of five YHC faculty members mentoring students in the completion of the project. Other participating faculty include Dr. Joseph Pate (Outdoor Studies), Ted Whisenhunt (Art), Dr. Paul Arnold (Biology), and Dr. Kevin Geyer (Biology).

The ATP was developed by East Tennessee State University’s Center of Excellence for Appalachian Studies and Services and is supported by the ARC. The first ATP Symposium was held in December 2001, and 2021 is the first year ARC issued a competitive application process for institutions across the region. Moving forward, all qualifying educational institutions in the Appalachian region will have the opportunity to apply for the ATP each year.

The Appalachian Regional Commission ( is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.

About Young Harris College

Young Harris College is a private baccalaureate and master’s degree-granting institution located in the beautiful mountains of North Georgia. Founded in 1886 and historically affiliated with The United Methodist Church, Young Harris College educates, inspires, and empowers students through an education that purposefully integrates the liberal arts and professional studies. The College has four academic divisions: Fine Arts; Humanities; Mathematics, Science and Technology; and Professional Studies. More than 1,400 students are enrolled in its residential and Early College programs. The College is an active member of the NCAA Division II and remains a fierce competitor in the prestigious Peach Belt Conference. For more information, visit