The Mountain Institute was founded in 1972 in order to ensure the passing of values from one generation to the next by leading father and son trips in the wild places in West Virginia. Its work quickly expanded to experiential and leadership education for West Virginia's youth. TMI formally expanded into an international organization in 1987, when it assisted in the establishment of two new protected areas in Nepal and the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.
Today, the Appalachia Program focuses on developing an understanding and appreciation for the complex interaction between community, culture, and conservation through education and sustainable community initiatives. The heart of the program is the Spruce Knob Mountain Center, which serves as the homebase for TMI's wide variety of Mountain Learning courses. TMI has run over 1,000 Mountain Learning courses through the years. Most have been based right in West Virginia, but they have also traveled as far as the rugged and isolated Allagash River of Maine and the biodiverse hotspot of the Florida Keys. Wherever they take place, these programs bring adventure, group process skills, leadership development, conservation, and environmental education together in a rigorous and invigorating environment.
The Mountain Institute custom designs programs to meet client desires. This includes programs for upper elementary through university students, professional development workshops for teachers, Wilderness First Responder & First Aid Courses, summer camps, and many other opportunities.
It is the mission of Mountain Learning Programs to help people become powerful, secure, knowledgeable individuals with a clear vision of their responsibilities and potential for improving the human condition and the natural world.