The name is new, but the people, the place, and the dedication to learning beyond the classroom are the same. We were born right here in West Virginia on Spruce Knob, in 1972 as The Mountain Institute. Our Appalachian Programs at the Spruce Knob Mountain Center and in nearby communities were part of the larger story of conserving mountain environments, creating more sustainable livelihoods, and protecting unique mountain cultures on three continents. In March 2017, the Appalachian Programs became a separate nonprofit organization, Experience Learning. Now operating out of two campuses, our 400 acre Spruce Knob Mountain Center, and 560 acre Sweetwater Farm, Experience Learning continues to grow locally, by expanding our programs, and serving more students from across the eastern seaboard each year.
Our vision is a world where people have the competence and will to affect positive change in their lives and the world. In order to have a vibrant community and give us a chance of survival on the planet, we’re going to need everyone to participate.
Our mission is to develop effective community members through beyond-the-classroom, outdoor learning opportunities for children and adults. Our programs are based on three core principles.
Engage – Every program focuses on engaging participants in meaningful ways. This enables participants to share responsibility while giving them opportunities to develop leadership and decision-making skills.
Discover – Authentic opportunities are integral to our programs. These allow for discovering ones own potential, interests, new skills and knowledge, and the wonders of the natural world.
Connect – Meaningful experiences are based on connections. In a world where it is easy to plug-in to a global world, we emphasize the importance of an un-plugged world; one that focuses on connections to one another and the natural world.