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Kristina Hefferle, a junior majoring in biology and anthropology within the UNC College of Arts and Sciences, looks for the elusive male Blue Ridge two-lined salamander under a footbridge in the botanical garden of the Highlands Biological Station in Highlands, North Carolina.

The UNC Institute for the Environment’s Highlands Field site is accepting applications until March 1, 2024.

Students studying at the Highlands Field Site spend a semester exploring ecology and human impacts. Based in the gorgeous southern Appalachian Mountains, this is an all-immersive field and classroom-based research experience. In addition to taking exciting classes, students will receive capstone and independent research experience.

The program is only offered in fall semesters, with rising juniors and seniors given preference. The semester at the Highlands Field Site follows the same schedule as the University during the fall semester. The program offers the following courses. For full descriptions of each course, visit the UNC Institute for the Environment’s field site page.

  • ENEC 204: Southern Appalachian Environment & Cultural History (1 credit hour)
  • ENEC 256: Human Impacts in the Southern Appalachian (4 credit hours)
  • ENEC 264: Effective Science Communication/Communicating Science in the Anthropocene (3 credit hours)
  • ENEC 395: Research in Environmental Science and Studies (3 credit hours)
  •  ENEC 479: Remote Sensing and Landscape Analysis (3 credit hours)
  • ENEC 698: Capstone – Analysis and Solution of Environmental Problems (3 credit hours)

For any questions regarding the program, reach out to UNC Highlands Field Site Director Rada Petric at

Read about adventures from previous years

Carolina students write about finding their love for field work:

Highlands Field Site Blog:

Highlands Field Site Instagram:

Apply to HFS 2024

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