GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) - Some Middle Tennessee State University students are spending their spring break earning credits in the Smokies.

According to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the students are part of a pilot education program called SmokyMtnU. It's a partnership between the park and the school where students take a four-credit biology course focusing on the Smokies and then spend two weeks of hands-on work in field.

During the spring break trip this week, students are learning how park staff manage wildlife, protect resources through law enforcement, and care for the natural history collections.

A second trip during finals week will include a multi-day backpacking trip for students to learn about backcountry management.

The park hopes to expand the program next year.

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