MC community stays Fit. Green. Happy. ® at home

MC community stays Fit. Green. Happy.® at home

April 22, 2020

Earth Day at Maryville College is typically celebrated for a full week and includes a packed schedule of fun, outdoor campus activities focused on sustainability and wellness. This year, the MC community is still encouraged to celebrate Earth Day on April 22 – from home.

Mountain Challenge, LLC – an award-winning outdoor team building company located on the MC campus since 1987 – developed an initiative called Fit. Green. Happy.®, which focuses on being active, getting outside, caring for the outdoors by contributing to environmental sustainability, and fostering personal happiness.

This week, Mountain Challenge provided a list of Earth Day ideas to the Maryville College campus community. Those ideas include bringing a yoga mat outside and trying out one of the “Yoga From Home” videos on the Mountain Challenge website or making a new “green goal” for oneself, other than recycling. Additionally, Mountain Challenge is sharing activities and how-to videos on Facebook and Instagram (@mtnchallenge180).

Mountain Challenge is also encouraging the MC community to incorporate Fit. Green. Happy.® into their lives as they practice social distancing and work/study from home.

Normally, Mountain Challenge holds a weekly “Camp 4” event on Wednesdays at Crawford House. The outdoor fitness initiative –launched in March 2016 to help address obesity and physical activity in the community – is usually open to the public, as well as Maryville College faculty, staff and students, and includes activities like climbing, yoga and strength training. As a result of the government’s stay-at-home order in response to COVID-19, Mountain Challenge came up with a way for the community to participate in a “Remote Camp 4,” with a list of ideas and links on the website.

Students who normally participate in Mountain Challenge’s open trips (outdoor activities, such as hiking, kayaking and climbing, that are offered to any interested students and can count as credit for some courses that have a required physical activity component) can do a “remote open trip.” They choose an activity and get it approved in advance by a Mountain Challenge staff member, then they verify completion through an agreed upon method, such as photos or having another person verify it. 

Physical Activity at Home

Dr. Jeremy Steeves, assistant professor of exercise science, is offering a similar option to students in his classes who need to fulfill their required physical activity course credit. As part of his EXS 222: Sport and Exercise Nutrition and EXS 241: Population Health and Disease Prevention courses, students are usually required to complete several physical activity events, either through a Mountain Challenge event or through an on-campus physical fitness class. Now, Steeves is following the Mountain Challenge model for completing remote open trips: students choose a physical activity they can complete at home, get the activity approved by Steeves in advance and document it through an agreed-upon method.

Students have participated in variety of activities for the physical activity credit at home, including a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout at a local park, a walk in the woods and even a full day of planting a garden with over 300 vegetables and 20 fruit trees. Steeves and his family also participated; they completed a virtual 10K race that was a fundraiser for an organization in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Additionally, students in Steeves’s EXS 222: Sport and Exercise Nutrition specifically requested a check-in type assignment after the College moved to distance learning, so he asked his students complete a COVID-19 reflection assignment. The assignment, titled “Six Daily Questions to Ask Yourself in Quarantine,” is based on a Greater Good Magazine article by Brooke Anderson, which was published March 24. After reading the article, the students reflected on the following questions:

  • What are you grateful for today?
  • Who are you checking in on, or connecting with, today?
  • What expectations of “normal” are you letting go of today?
  • How are you getting outside today?
  • How are you moving your body today?
  • What beauty are you creating, cultivating, or inviting in today?
  • What one additional question would you add to the list?

Sustainability at Home 

Maryville College’s ENV/SUS 101: Introduction to Environmental Issues & Sustainability course usually includes a variety of activities on campus and in the community. The course is co-taught by Adrienne Schwarte (associate professor of design, chair of the Division of Fine Arts and coordinator of the sustainability studies minor) and Dr. Mark O’Gorman (professor of political science and coordinator of the environmental studies program).

This month, the course syllabus included a “Court Street Clean-Up” event, during which the class joins Keep Blount Beautiful to pick up litter on the streets bordering campus. This is also a popular annual event for the College’s celebration of Earth Week.

The class was also scheduled to do environmental education activities at John Sevier Elementary School and participate in several outdoor activities, such as a tour of the Pistol Creek Wetland Center.

Now that the class has moved online, those activities are cancelled, and Schwarte and O’Gorman are finding creative ways to teach the course for the remainder of the spring semester.

Those creative ways include creating a video of the wetland center to replace the scheduled tour. Other videos are being created to demonstrate sustainability at home, such as a “Composting 101” video created by Schwarte.

Instead of the environmental activities at the elementary school, the project was changed to an at-home energy audit.

“It’s now a project that has students do an energy audit of their own home to see what their monthly energy consumption is and then provide an analysis of recommendations regarding how they could reduce their consumption,” Schwarte said.

“We’ve been trying to reinvent as much as we can,” she added.


Maryville College is a nationally-ranked institution of higher learning and one of America’s oldest colleges. For more than 200 years, we’ve educated students to be giving citizens and gifted leaders, to study everything, so that they are prepared for anything — to address any problem, engage with any audience and launch successful careers right away. Located in Maryville, Tennessee, between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the city of Knoxville, Maryville College offers nearly 1,200  students from around the world both the beauty of a rural setting and the advantages of an urban center, as well as more than 60 majors, seven pre-professional programs and career preparation from their first day on campus to their last. Today, our 10,000 alumni are living life strong of mind and brave of heart and are prepared, in the words of our Presbyterian founder, to “do good on the largest possible scale.”