Course Description

An oasis is often defined as a fertile spot where water is found. They are places of refuge where myriad plants and animals can survive and thrive in a small place. An oasis is also a destination where travelers stop, and sometimes stay. North Carolina is an oasis of scenic beauty and wonder!


In two exciting and beautifully illustrated classes, award winning naturalist and conservation leader Tom Earnhardt will help class participants to “look a little closer” at Oasis, North Carolina. Few places on Earth are home to such an extraordinary assemblage of plants and animals.


Today, we celebrate the natural world in state parks, national parks, and in the variety of other wild venues. We know, however, that such places are under threat from rapid development and warming climate. Tom will also help participants evaluate these threats while examining opportunities to work together, individually, and collectively, to preserve the best of Oasis, North Carolina.


Course Outline

About the Instructor

Tom Earnhardt is a graduate of Davidson College and UNC School of Law.  Tom was one of the first attorneys to work for the state of North Carolina in the "new arena” of Environmental Law beginning in 1971. Tom worked to protect the New River in northwestern North Carolina and to purchase much of the land that is now part of Cape Lookout National Seashore. For more than two decades he was a Professor of Law—teaching Corporations, Property, and of course, Environmental Law.


Tom is probably best known for his work over the past 18 years for writing and producing almost 100 episodes of the statewide North Carolina Public Television series, Exploring North Carolina. Over the years this important series has dealt with many of the most significant natural resource issues facing the North Carolina, including multiple episodes dealing with climate change and sea-level rise.


While teaching and later producing the television series, Earnhardt received numerous awards and served on a variety of conservation boards including: The Nature Conservancy (NC), Audubon North Carolina, Trout Unlimited (national), and the North Carolina Coastal Federation. Tom has also served as president of the North Carolina Botanical Garden Foundation (UNC-CH) and of the Friends of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. He also chaired the Governor’s Advisory Commission for the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.



Cancellation Policy

Cancellation must be received in writing at least one week before the start of classes. You will be issued a refund, less a $10 administrative fee. Please contact Student Services at stuserv@unc.edu.  Alternatively, participant substitutions are welcome. If you cannot attend an event, you can contact us with the name of the individual who will take your place.

In-Person Course

This course takes place in-person at the Friday Center for Continuing Education. 

Note: Our programming policies follow UNC-Chapel Hill Community Standards and are subject to change. In concordance with these standards, masks are optional for in-person courses. See the COVID-19 Community Standards for more information.

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