The Founding Fathers
WilSkills came to be in the fall of 1974 when graduate student Kimball McKee approached Vanderbilt administrators with the idea of creating a Wilderness Skills Course based on the example of the Outward Bound Schools. A Housing Director, Robert Warren, started publicizing and recruiting instructors while McKee began to compile a budget and contacted University Provost Nicholas Hobbs in order to secure funds for the course.
The lectures were presented by members of the Vanderbilt faculty, personnel from the Tennessee Department of Conservation, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Sierra Club, National Speleological Society, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, American Red Cross, and the Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association. They covered topics such as basic first aid, weather and climate, hydrology, caving, TVA, basic survival skills, the geology of the southern Appalachians, endangered species, the politics of wilderness preservation, and parks and pocket wildernesses in Tennessee.