Click Selection

Search News Releases:

News Resources
on the Web

31 January 2008

JSU’s Own Survivor Man Leads Fascinating Workshop for JSU Field Schools

Submitted by Renee Morrison
Coordinator, JSU Field Schools
Jacksonville State University

If you ventured deep in the Talladega National Forest underneath the barren hardwood trees next to the bubbling Shoal Creek in the freezing mists of the morning on Saturday, January 26th, you would have discovered a fascinating campsite. Recycled wooden signs announced that this was “JSU Survival Camp” and two fire rings burned bright to warm the outdoor classroom for thirty dedicated participants, mostly fathers and sons.  


Captain Jerry Mize begins Wilderness Survival 101 with some humor and supportive facts regarding pop television shows such as Survivor Man and Man Vs. Wild.

“You are in the woods. You look left. You look right. . . . Ahead . . .  Behind. Nothing looks familiar. You don’t know which way you need to go. What do you do?” asked Captain Jerry Mize as he paced back in front of an attentive group of wannabe survivor folk.


“You stop right where you are and think about your situation,” answered Caleb Davis who is a seventh grader at JHS.


Caleb Davis points out ways to improve a shelter to his father John Davis.


With a wide grin, Captain Mize says, “Yes! Someone give that kid a cookie! You are lost and you need to stop and think. If you panic or begin to run aimlessly through the woods, you will only make your situation worse.”


Chris Raney, USDA Forest Service, partners with JSU to ensure safety; Bobby Floyd, JSU Field Schools, is a Wilderness Responder.

Cole Pollard cuts a stick to the right size under Bobby Floyd’s supervision.


Captain Mize lead the group through a series of immersion-based learning activities that included working as teams to build their own shelters, creating snares to capture food, purifying water, and observing other basic survival skills. This was an eight-hour class and the participants enjoyed every moment, stating that they learned skills that would certainly be useful in any survival situation.


Zach Baeza studies a diagram of a poncho lean-to.

Captain Mize is impressed by this shelter constructed in 30 minutes by participants.

Jacob Bagwell, Mark Hearn, Cole Pollard and Braden Hearn listen to the critique of the temporary shelter.

Participants practice their fire-starting skills. (Dried cattail fluff is excellent tender!)


“This is absolutely wonderful!” exclaimed Dr. Mac Gillam as he watched his son John Thomas moving through the woods searching for useful materials to build a temporary shelter. “We’d like for the field school and Captain Mize to plan an overnight survival camp when it warms up a bit. These boys would love it!”


John Thomas Gillam searches Shoal Creek for useful materials.


If you are interested in participating in future Wilderness Survival 101 workshops or in the tentative Wilderness Survival Overnight Camp, please contact Renee Morrison at JSU Field Schools by calling 256-782-5697 or emailing .

Submit items for news releases by using the request form at