Blue Ridge Discovery Center was officially founded in 2008 as the brainchild of Scott Jackson-Ricketts and Devin Floyd, two people who share a passion for exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains and beyond. Educating youth quickly became the outlet for their shared passion and area programs developed from “discovery” walks in parks to setting up bird feeders in public schools.
In 2009, BRDC had risen out of extensive and often deeply philosophical dialogue about education and natural history. This epic discussion formed the solid foundation which BRDC now acts upon. Out of those discussions came BRDC’s founding principles and our geographic area of focus.
A belief that a deep drive for curiosity and observation… inquiry and discovery and the concept that sharing those discoveries can lead to spiral of knowledge within the community.
PLACE BASED INQUIRY
The focus very quickly became “place based” and the common denominator was the Blue Ridge Mountains. Here was a place that held an incredible amount of abundance yet was relatively untapped by Eastern US standards.
With those baseline principles of method and place established, BRDC quickly became an active volunteer network, forming the core values of the organization.
From 2009-2015 BRDC built its core strength in community service by creating and implementing programs that span outdoor learning, ecological exploration and environmental education.
Through its educational programs, BRDC grew to serve a large and diverse constituency of Blue Ridge residents. While focused on building a reputation in natural history education and outdoor learning, BRDC is also cognizant of the potential for significant cultural and economic impacts that could be catalyzed by its work. Rapid growth through community service has allowed BRDC to build a network of grassroots partnerships and collaborative associations that amplify its ability to operate a center that can generate opportunities for additional cultural and economic growth in the region.
Our model of development is nativist—grounded in regional identity and pride of place—but expansive in vision with an inclusive, welcoming, and participatory framework. Central to that vision is the creation of the Blue Ridge Discovery Center to serve as a hub for natural history explorations, environmental education, training, research, and community service throughout the Blue Ridge.
Today BRDC has evolved into a multifaceted organization poised to make a regional impact.
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum: The efficiency of space, the quality of displays, how powerfully the desert ecology is conveyed and the fact that the ASDM is a recognized global destination all served to inspire BRDC’s earliest interests in creating a center in the Blue Ridge of similar educational potential.
The Ned Smith Center: Their mission is to merge the arts and the natural world and foster a celebration of both.
A Natural Sense of Wonder celebrates the discovery process so vital to BRDC’s educational philosophy: hands on learning in the moment. Also, Rick Van Noy is known to many in the western Virginia naturalist crowd as ‘one of our own’.
Louv’s seminal work launched a national dialogue on both the value of learning in the outdoors as well as our collective failure as parents and guardians to ensure that our children have such opportunities. BRDC found this book to be a wise call to action, in which we are playing a significant role...outdoor education.