BRDC's commitment to the community extends to frequent participation in local events, such as the Independence Farmers Market. Passing through town on Fridays during the garden months, one cannot miss the festive array of multicolored tents and throngs of vendors and shoppers milling about. When the IFM asked BRDC to share a kids event tent on site, we willingly accepted.
On both May 30th and June 6th, BRDC set up shop and waited for the kids...who did not disappoint. Kids love critters, so at our first display, we brought an assortment of herps: two turtles, a salamander, one frog, and a snake. Heartmoss Farm considered our menagerie lacking so loaned out a silkie chicken for the morning. This assortment gave the kids choices for our sketching program, which is often a part of our demos and field excursions.
With the younger crowd, questions are non-stop, so it is our main job to keep up as best we can, and tie the questions to the natural history of the Blue Ridge whenever possible. For instance, we had one box turtle and one snapping turtle, obviously very different species with habitat preferences exhibited by contrasting shells, shape, color, feet and so on. This gave us plenty to discuss with a captive audience.
At our second market day, BRDC brought three cages of moths caught around the porch light. With nearly fifty different moths, kids were able to grasp the idea of diversity...shape, size, coloration, gaudy and cryptic were all represented. Many kids wanted to see moths under the microscope, which elicited the expected 'wow's. Meanwhile, a name the snake contest was in play...no official results in yet.