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Interests, Experiences and Qualifications . Awards, Recognition, Community Service
Other Awards, Recognition, Community Service . Why I Wish to Participate in the Governor's School for Tennessee Heritage . Blount County Heritage Essay

The School for Tennessee Heritage

Application Essays for 1998 Governor's School Program
Ben Andrew Quillen
William Blount High School
Maryville, Tennessee

1.) Interests, Experiences and Qualifications:

My favorite school subjects are social and geographical sciences. I enjoy documentaries, articles and books about important historical events, people, and places. I believe that understanding our past is critically important to understanding our future.

As an aviation enthusiast, I have had the opportunity to see the beauty of Tennessee from the air. I have soared in a glider above the Tennessee Valley, flown in a huge KC-135 aerial refueling tanker high above the Applachian Mountains and flown in a small airplane with my Dad across the mountains from Athens to South Carolina with a return flight to Knoxville. As part of a Civil Air Patrol field trip in November, 1994 with LTC John Ragan, I visited the Watauga Lake region. We toured the unique Moody Bible Institute missionary pilot training facility in Elizabethton and then visited two other upper East Tennessee high schools: Johnson and Unaka. America is certainly blessed with beauty in East Tennessee.

As a nature enthusiast, I can truly appreciate the beauty and fragile ecology of this region. Walking the trails, I have touched delicate life in the flowers and felt the power in wild rivers. The contrast between nature and man is vivid from the Chilhowee Mountain observatory at Look Rock. To the east is the Smoky Mountains, majestic and serene. To the west, the effects of man are obvious. I have hiked or camped at Clingmans Dome, Chimney Tops, Elkmont, Deep Creek, Abrams Falls and Abrams Creek in the Smoky Mountains, Fall Creek Falls State Park, camped deep within the Cherokee National Forests at the Tennessee and North Carolina border and hiked to the tops of Mt. Rogers and High Knob in the Jefferson National Forests in southwest Virginia. I have floated the Nantahala River in the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina four times and traveled through the Pisgah National Forests many times. At the Big South Fork Park, Mrs. Barbara Shoemaker, a science teacher at Oneida High School, led us on a tour of the limestone bridges, the great gorge and the old coal mining museum at Stearns, Kentucky. I listened spellbound to Bill Irwin's description of how he "through hiked" the Applachian Trail, blind with his guide dog, Orient. I have received one week of special nature training at Camp Greenville located in the Sumter National Forest of South Carolina. I personally know Mr. Ken Voorhis, a world-class expert in environmental science. He is an Elder in our church and has led us on a tour of the Abrams Creek area. Mr. Voorhis is Director of Tremont, Great Smoky Mountains Institute.

Other regional historical and cultural experiences have been provided by my parents and by others. As part of a unique educational experience through Youth Leadership Blount, we met artists Allen Monsarrat and Lee Roberson. On another school field trip, I saw the "Lost Sea", a unique lake hundreds of feet underground in Monroe County. I have fished along the Little Tennessee River at Calderwood Dam; visited the Sequoyah birthplace and the Cheoah Indian village markers near Vonore; toured the Native American village at Cherokee, North Carolina; and observed the Revolutionary War site at Ft. Loudon. I have toured historic Rugby and Sergeant Alvin York's home town grist mill at Pall Mall. I have been fortunate to visit Arnold Air Force Base, near Tullahoma, home of the world's largest wind tunnel. And I have studied Tennessee's native wildlife at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga and at the Sugarland's Nature Center Museum near Gatlinburg.

Other interesting educational experiences I have had include trips to important American historical sites. I have made two visits to Washington, D.C. including tours of the Capitol, the White House, the Pentagon, the national monuments and war memorials, the Smithsonian Museums and Art Galleries and Arlington National Cemetery. I will never forget the change-of- guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the FBI Headquarters tour and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing where money is manufactured. I met Senator Strom Thurmond, the oldest and longest serving statesman in Congress. I have also visited historical sites of the birth of America in Jamestown and Yorktown, Virginia; Boston and Plymouth, Massachusetts; Cowpens National Battlefield; Monticello; Mt. Vernon and the Hermitage in Nashville, Tennessee, home of President Andrew Jackson. My family and I have visited historical Civil War battlefields including Ft. Sumter, Hampton Roads, Fredericksburg, Keenesaw, Petersburg and Appomattox. I have also toured the historical museum at Greeneville, Tennessee, home of President Andrew Johnson, the McClung Historical Museum at the University of Tennessee, the Museum of Appalachia, the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge and the railroad museum in Roanoke, Virginia.

From a personal basis, I have a unique Tennesse heritage. My father, Allen E.Quillen, was born in Kingsport, attended Dobyns-Bennett High School, graduated from the University of Tennessee and is an officer in the U.S. Army Reserves. He has served the state and nation on active duty during the Cold War, the Vietnam and Gulf War Conflicts. His father, Warner Pridemore Quillen, Jr. served in Europe during World War II and worked at America's only source of military high explosives, Holston Army Ammunition Plant, in Kingsport. His father, Warner P. Quillen, Sr., served in the Army during World War I. My Great-Great-Great Grandfather, John Quillen, served in the War between the States and his Great Grandfather, Teague Quillen IV, served in the Revolutionary War as a native of Surry County, North Carolina. He migrated to southwestern Virginia, near present day Kingsport, in the late 18-century at the same time Daniel Boone was leading expeditions from Surry County across the mountains into Virginia and Kentucky. Our most famous living relative is the Honorable James Henry "Jimmy" Quillen, who served the state for 34 years as a U.S. Congressman. Jimmy and my grandfather were first cousins; they shared the same grandfather, Charles C. Quillen, from Ft. Blackmore, Virginia.