Rain, rain, rain. The 3rd annual Summer Mount Rogers Naturalist Rally was wet, but like always we had a great time enjoying the rich natural history of the area. With a nice mix of veteran and new participants, this rally pulled together a wonderful group of people who even while soaked with rain remained enthusiastic and positive.
After participants registered and chose their field trips, Friday night of the event kicked off with a Farm-to-Table dinner at the Konnarock Community Center. By partnering with Harvest Table Produce Farm, locally sourced ingredients were the foundation for the meal. After dinner, Tom McAvoy, senior laboratory specialist in the Department of Entomology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, discussed several native and non-native insects and their relationships with North American ecosystems. Tom’s talk drew from his decades of non-native invasive pest research at Virginia Tech and the research of some of his entomology colleagues. With over 30 published papers, Tom’s work has helped shape the management of agriculture and forest pests, and he is held in high regard by the hemlock woolly adelgid research community.
The optional Saturday morning breakfast included coffee donated by Dark Hollow Micro Roasters and locally raised eggs provided by Savannah Brown. Field trips on Saturday included ecological tours of Whitetop Mountain, fly fishing, a non-native invasive plant workshop, a local cave tour, fungi foray and butterfly hike. With the rain continuing through the afternoon, our snorkeling and stream ecology groups were diverted from the bulging streams and treated to a tour of the Aquatic Wildlife Conservation Center at VDGIF’s Buller Hatchery.
This year we started a raffle prize fund raiser for our Summer Camp Scholarship Program. We had an amazing array of donated items from area artisans. We’d like to thank Peach Bottom Pottery, Mtn. Momma Spoons, and Joe Flowers for their contributions. Several local businesses also contributed items, including Green Cove Collective, Mojo’s Café, and Adventure Damascus.
As always, Blue Ridge Discovery Center could not have held this event without the help of many partners and volunteers who worked to make the event a success! With all of the support and the participation from the public, this 3rd annual Summer Mount Rogers Naturalist Rally was a testament to the strong community surrounding the ecological treasure at the core of this event.