News & Events

Ramsey Center Hosts Film on Southern Forests and Conservation

The Liston B. Ramsey Center for Regional Studies at Mars Hill University continues its semester-long theme of exploring southern Appalachian forests with the screening of a new documentary, "America’s First Forest: Carl Schenk and the Asheville Experiment." The free screening, scheduled for February 11, 2016 at 7 pm, was intended to be the first event in the newly-reopened Mars Hill Radio Theatre, formerly the Mars Theatre, in downtown Mars Hill. Unfortunately, the theatre isn't quite ready to open, so the film instead will be held in Belk Auditorium in the Wren Student Center on the MHU campus.Schenck

The event is free, but due to limited seating, reservations are required through the Ramsey Center.

"America's First Forest" tells the story of how legendary German forester Carl Schenck helped launch the American conservation movement. The full-length, in-depth documentary film explores Schenck’s work at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, and its impact on the conservation movement. It was thus on George Vanderbilt’s magnificent estate that a 120,000-acre forest became America’s first scientifically-managed forest. Here the nation’s first forestry school was founded, and the call for creating national forests in the eastern United States was inspired.

Dr. James Lewis, an executive producer and historical consultant and writer for the film, will be on hand to participate in a discussion with Dr. Kathryn Newfont of the University of Kentucky. Newfont, formerly a professor of history at Mars Hill University, is the author of Blue Ridge Commons: Environmental Activism and Forest History in Western North Carolina (2012).
Although probably best known as the author of the classic memoir, Cradle of Forestry in America, Schenck is also renowned for his work as an educator, forester, lumberman, and forest conservation advocate. Central to Schenck’s extraordinary career and impact was establishing the Biltmore Forest School—America’s first and arguably most influential. With the Biltmore Forest School and his experiments on the ground, Schenck laid the foundation for the conservation movement in the twentieth century and still inspires people today.

This event is just one opportunity to join the Ramsey Center staff this spring as they delve deeper into their current theme, “Exploring Southern Appalachian Forests.” The center rotates through different themes that offer a lens through which students at Mars Hill University and community members can look in order broaden their knowledge of and appreciation for the region. This rotating theme also allows the center to partner with different organizations throughout Appalachia, and they are excited to work with the Forest History Society and the Mars Hill Radio Theatre for this event.

Closed for over twenty years, the Mars Hill Radio Theatre is the new incarnation of the Mars Theatre, a fixture in downtown Mars Hill from 1947 through the late 1980s. The theatre is scheduled to host a grand reopening on March 1.

If you go:
February 11, 2016, at 7 p.m., Belk Auditorium (Wren Student Center), Mars Hill University.
Reservations are required. Space is limited.
For more information, contact Hannah Furgiuele at 828-689-1571 or