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The Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont and Maryville College are partnering up to promote better education.

The partnership will include educational programming and research that celebrates and promotes sustainability. They decided to announce the partnership on Earth Day.

Organizers say the new partnership will create more hands-on educational opportunities.

"I can take them into the college woods, which are beautiful at Maryville College, but to bring them into the Smokies, into the rain where they actually have to experience nature hands on, it's going to make it real for them, and making it real is what makes it exciting. Pen and paper doesn't do near as much as putting a salamander in their hand, putting a flower in their hand, and seeing that it's real and living," said Dr. David Unger, Maryville College assistant professor of biology.

Even though the memorandum was only signed Tuesday, the Maryville students have already taken advantage of the extra resources. They got their hands dirty collecting and cataloging salamanders.

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