Galax Middle Visits Grandfather Mountain

On May 6th, students from Galax Middle School took a trip up 5,946’ to the top of Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina. There they had the opportunity to learn about the various flora and fauna that inhabit the mountains’ 16 distinct ecosystems.

The students took a tour through the Nature Museum and learned about the natural history of the mountain, then had the opportunity to conduct their own field research with education specialist and naturalist, Amy Renfranz. Renfranz helped the students each set up their own 10x10 meter plot where they observed soil quality, species diversity and practiced their naturalist skills.

During their trip to the mountain, the students discovered many different kinds of plants and animals; including pinkshell azalea, bear corn, and red-backed and gray cheeked salamanders! The students finished their trip to Grandfather Mountain by visiting the resident bald eagles and bears.

Wilderness Backpacking Camp June 27-July 1

Wilderness Backpacking Camp June 27-July 1

One of the most rewarding opportunities of the summer is discovering more of the Blue Ridge in the company of exceptional guides on this multi-day backpacking expedition. On the trail, you’ll observe and document the wildlife we encounter along the way, including unique birds, trees, plants, insects, mushrooms, salamanders, and many others.

Still time to apply for an Ornithology Camp Scholarship!

Still time to apply for an Ornithology Camp Scholarship!

BRDC's Ornithology Camp, for kids ages 9-12, offers 4 days and 3 nights all about birds: eagles, warblers, herons, wrens, woodpeckers, owls, thrushes and more!! The camp, which is funded through the William Roberts Memorial Fund and volunteer support, runs Wednesday-Saturday, June 7-10, and includes all meals and snacks.  

Explorers Go Underground

Explorers Go Underground

BRDC's Explorers Club recently travelled to Speedwell to explore underground with expert caver Bill Grose. When the group climbed down into the cave entrance, they found themselves in a wild, seemingly uncharted world. The air was immediately cooler (which is why everyone dressed in layers) and all natural light disappeared. Stalactites hung above like chandeliers.

Early Spring Wildflowers on the New River Trail

Early Spring Wildflowers on the New River Trail

On Easter Saturday, 23 people joined Blue Ridge Discovery Center’s Explorers Club for our annual wildflower walk on the New River Trail. The 57-mile trail is the state’s “most narrow state park,” and the section between Low Water Bridge near Fries and Fries Junction, where a 12-mile spur trail heads to Galax, is a special spot for early spring wildflowers. Hike leader Carol Broderson briefly discussed the history of botanizing in Virginia and the fate of the “great forest” that covered the Appalachians. 

Mt Rogers Spring Naturalist Rally May 12-14!

Mt Rogers Spring Naturalist Rally May 12-14!

Three days of exploration & discovery for all ages!  

Bring your family and celebrate Mother's Day in the most beautiful place on Earth.  There is something for the entire family to enjoy with an expert speaker Friday Night, trips Saturday and Sunday, and nighttime programs at the campground. Topics include salamanders, wildflowers, geology, birding, cultural history, mammals, medicinal plants, natural history and much, much more! 

Species Spotlight: Sassafras

Species Spotlight: Sassafras

Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) is blooming now in the Blue Ridge.

Sassafras is a member of the Lauraceae family. This family is characterized by having woody stems, simple leaves, and actinomorphic (star-shaped) flowers that are typically bisexual. A a rather small tree, it is commonly found in early successional habitat such as fence lines and field edges all throughout Virginia.

Learning about Amphibians & Aquatic Insects

Learning about Amphibians & Aquatic Insects

BRDC has been busy with education programs, working with Galax Middle School, Fries School, Fairview Elementary, Grayson Highlands, Independence Elementary.

Grayson County's fourth grade students participated in the Natural Heritage Program with an emphasis on salamanders, toads, and frogs. Students learned about salamanders commonly found in the Blue Ridge.

Flight Behavior

Flight Behavior

For March, the BRDC Book Club read Flight Behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver.

"A brilliant and suspenseful novel set in present day Appalachia; a breathtaking parable of catastrophe and denial that explores how the complexities we inevitably encounter in life lead us to believe in our particular chosen truths. Kingsolver's riveting story concerns a young wife and mother on a failing farm in rural Tennessee who experiences something she cannot explain, and how her discovery energizes various competing factions—religious leaders, climate scientists, environmentalists, politicians—trapping her in the center of the conflict and ultimately opening up her world. Flight Behavior is arguably Kingsolver's must thrilling and accessible novel to date, and like so many other of her acclaimed works, represents contemporary American fiction at its finest."

A Week of Exploration, Messy Adventures, Engineering & Creativity!

A Week of Exploration, Messy Adventures, Engineering & Creativity!

Both staff and volunteers were on-the-go as we taught students from Galax Middle School for their Enrichment Week. Enrichment week gives students a break from the everyday class routine and allows them to gain crucial experience outside of the classroom. BRDC provided students with three different programs that they could choose from including Pioneering, Crafting with Nature, and Exploration and Discovery.