TOWNSEND, TN. — Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont unveiled the designs for their second campus expansion at their annual fundraiser on August 262023. The response was positive, resulting in over $175,000 in on-site gifts in support of the project.

Tremont is a nonprofit environmental education center located inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Townsend, Tennessee. For over 50 years, Tremont has invited youth and adults to their campus for immersive, multi-day experiences designed to connect people and nature. The expansion to a second campus will increase the capacity for more students to participate in residential programs, new day program offerings to provide additional pathways for workforce development and learning opportunities, new adult programs, and additional revenue to support financial aid and tuition assistance for future program participants.

In 2019, Tremont purchased 194 acres of land adjacent to the national park in Townsend, Tennessee. Last year, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)’s Connected Communities Pilot Program awarded the nonprofit $250,000 to support the design and development of Tremont’s second campus. Now, Tremont is giving the public the first glimpses of the plan, including building and land-use plans and detailed renderings. The first phase of construction includes a central gathering building that includes classrooms, a conference space, a commercial kitchen, and a dining hall; dorms to house up to 88 people; open-air multipurpose structures; staff housing; land improvements for agriculture, forest farming, and recreation; and water treatment infrastructure for storm and wastewater systems. The future campus achieves the Living Building Challenge, an ambitious set of building requirements that promotes the responsible use of resources and materials while demonstrating sustainable and equitable practices on a net-positive campus.

“We know that this is an ambitious project, but we see the potential to change how our region thinks about development, our connection to the natural world, and the future of our planet,” said Catey McClary, Tremont’s President & CEO. “It’s encouraging to see so much support for this vision.”

The recent fundraiser was the largest in Tremont’s history, kicking off their Keystone Campaign in support of the second campus. Nearly 450 people were in attendance, and the event netted over $320,000 to support the project.

“There’s still a long way to go to fund the campus,” McClary said, “but this affirms that we’re on the right track.”

Tremont has shared videos showcasing the plans for the buildings, land management, educational programs, and community impact on their campaign website. Learn more at


Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont provides in-depth experiences through educational programs that celebrate ecological and cultural diversity, foster stewardship, and nurture appreciation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Learn more at


August 28, 2023

Erin Rosolina, Tremont Institute
(865) 448-6709, [email protected]