2012 Mount Rogers Naturalist Rally

Konnorock, Virginia

From feed-back in the moment and through personal observation, I have determined that this 38th annual Rally was a huge success.  Carrie Sparks once again pulled off the impossible, tying all the details and people together under one roof on Friday night for the official Rally launch, complete with the traditional chicken dinner and guest speaker, Mike Hayslett.  

Behind the curtains, are many people without whom there would be no Rally.  They include the MRNR committee members, Friends of Mount Rogers, the Konnorock Community Center and kitchen staff…every single one a volunteer.  With just a smidgeon of this understanding BRDC was handed the torch on Friday night, from Carrie to me, the new committee chairperson in charge of next year’s Rally and many to come.  As I watched Carrie work, I marveled at her comprehensive knowledge of people (their names, their standing), the most important chronology of tasks at hand, and her stamina in the face of great confusion, activity and noise.  I also shook in my boots.  

Many camp for the weekend, and a special thanks goes to those who work at the local campgrounds, such as Grindstone, who often provide free camping on Friday night for the guest speaker, the guides and other important volunteers.

BRDC has another big learning curve if we are to even begin to serve in the capacity of Carrie.  She will be a very important component of the transition, and has promised to help me in every way possible.  Fortunately there is time… and volunteers are already in place.  

As is the case every year, excellent programs, guided walks, and excursions into the many aspects of the highlands natural and human history were on the roster... 22 choices in total, from fly-tying to medicinal and edible plant explorations.  BRDC volunteers alone offered 5, including a special focus on kid-oriented programs. 

Mike Hayslett’s presentation on Friday night was stunning, very well done, and highly informative.  As a wetlands specialist, he dispelled common myths about what constitutes a marsh from a swamp, and described the different types of bogs, sinks, and especially vernal pools.  He drew from geological history, plant and animal associations, and conservation concerns to give us all a far better understanding of the ecological importance of still or lentic waters. 

BRDC is hugely honored by being given this charge.  The MRNR is a great tradition and inspiration to the community and the larger natural history network.  People come from great distance to take part, many bringing their kids.  BRDC considers the MRNR a model, and hopes one day to offer other such gatherings throughout the year, while ensuring that the model remains alive and well! 

Many thanks to the BRDC volunteers:  Allen Boynton, Gale Kuebler, Rebecca Rader, and Christina Gramm. 

Keep an eye on the Rally website:   http://www.mountrogersnaturalistrally.org/

Scott Jackson-Ricketts