As the underdog small-college, Emory & Henry College (pop. 1,117) proved itself a tough opponent in the 2016 Top Adventure School contest, hosted by Blue Ridge Outdoors. On the road to victory, the college defeated Warren Wilson College (pop. 824) , Montreat College (pop. 845), Berry College (pop. 2,245), and delivered a shocking upset to UNC Asheville (pop. 3,900) to claim the title of Top Adventure School, Small-School Champions. E&H was pitted against two-time defending champion Western North Carolina (pop. 8,800+, in the big-school bracket) in the David-vs-Goliath finally that Western North Carolina reached by besting UT Chattanooga (pop. 10,781+). The voting remained relatively even, with Emory & Henry’s loyal fans putting up a fight against a much larger voting body. But E&H's excellent college outdoor program and summer camps, which includes hiking, rafting & kayaking, and bouldering & rock climbing workshops for students, inspired a genuine grass-roots effort that consistently helped the college advance in the tournament to the finals.
Armed a strong grass-roots effort, a quality outdoor program, and pristine outdoor wonderland in our backyard, E&H entered the competition as the dark-horse and repeatedly handed losses to larger schools on its way to being named 2016 Top Adventure College. The surrounding Southwest Virginia (SWVA) and Northeast Tennessee (NETN) community rallied around the college during the last days of voting in a hard-fought effort to defeat the two-time defending champion, Western Carolina, a school with a student voting body 800% larger than Emory & Henry's.
Blue Ridge Outdoors announced the winner in mid-May, noting the impressive voting efforts of both colleges, but ultimately handing the victory to Western Carolina for a record third time. We extend our congratulations to Western Carolina in this notable accomplishment, and are pleased with our small-school championship that has helped highlight the outdoor treasures of SWVA that we have in our backyard in Emory, Va.
An Emory & Henry education can enrich an outdoor experience in amazing ways, helping students gain insight into the natural world in ways they never would have imaginedJake Schrum
21st President of Emory & Henry College
An online poll conducted by Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine ranks Emory & Henry among the top adventure colleges and universities in the East and Southeast.
Emory & Henry was selected by Blue Ridge Outdoors as one of 32 schools to compete in a bracketed competition that allowed readers to vote for the top adventure school. Emory & Henry advanced to the quarter finals of the competition, defeating Lees-McCrae College and Warren Wilson College along the way.
Emory & Henry’s location in the Virginia highlands, just a short distance away from some of the nation’s best trail hiking, mountain climbing and canoeing opportunities, has helped establish it as an attractive educational opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts. In addition to a highly active outdoor program, Emory & Henry offers credit to students who pursue an academic project while hiking the Appalachian Trail.
After six weeks and more than 350,000 votes, readers decided on the two best adventure colleges: Appalachian State University, located in Boone, N.C., and Brevard College, located near Brevard, N.C.
Blue Ridge Outdoors analyzed the outdoor adventure opportunities of those that ranked among the top 8 in the poll, including Emory & Henry.
The magazine highlighted Emory & Henry’s LEAD (Leadership Education and Development) as well as its on-campus facilities for outdoor education and enrichment, including a climbing tower, an indoor bouldering cave, a disc golf course, and an indoor heated pool.
The article also highlighted Jim Harrison, the director of the E&H Outdoor Program, who has created “a comprehensive outdoor program that facilitates everything from week-long adventures in the Florida Everglades to whitewater paddling excursions 20 minutes from campus.”