1) High Country Audubon Announces Research Grant
High Country Audubon Society (HCAS) is pleased to announce a grant opportunity to support bird research in the High Country of North Carolina. HCAS is the local chapter of the National Audubon Society and Audubon North Carolina serving Watauga, Ashe,Wilkes, Alleghany and Avery counties. The Sue Wells Research Grant will award up to $500 to a high school or college student to support research or field work in ornithology, or in an area of study that will directly benefit birds or bird habitat in this area or North Carolina. Only undergraduate or graduate students currently enrolled in degree-seeking programs or high school students may apply. The Sue Wells Research Grant was created in 2012 to support local students involved in bird research in the High Country. The first award went to Jessica Krippel, a Master of Science student at Western Carolina University. Jessica is using her grant to support her research of song sparrow mating success. In 2013, HCAS selected Morgan Harris, a graduate student at Appalachian State University, as the recipient of the Sue Wells Research Grant. MOrgan has been looking at reproductive pressures on local eastern bluebirds resulting from tree swallows moving into their territories. The late Sue Wells was a driving force in the creation of High Country Audubon Society and served on the Board of Trustees until 2010. Sue was also instrumental in creating the National Bird-Feeding Society and led the movement to help make backyard bird feeding the successful hobby it is today. Applications are due by June 30 and the winner will be announced by Mid-July at the HCAS annual membership meeting.
2) Grandfather Mountain Holds Animal Birthday Party June 18
Animal lovers unite June 18 at Grandfather Mountain for the Animal Birthday Party, a celebration of the furry and feathered residents who entertain and educate nearly a quarter million visitors each year. The animal birthday party includes a full day of special activities and treats for both the animals and their human visitors included with park admission. “Everyone deserves to be spoiled on their birthday, including our habitat animals,” said Animal Habitats Curator Christie Tipton. “The animal birthday party is a great chance to have some fun while learning about these fascinating creatures.” Grandfather Mountain is home to more than a dozen habitat animals, including black bears, river otters, bald eagles, white-tailed dear and cougars. Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the Nature Museum, kids can make animal birthday cards and participate in a “test your knowledge” contest. From 10:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m., a Behind-the-Scenes Habitat Tour will be offered at a reduced rate of $20 per person. Guests can see where the cougars and otters sleep overnight, meet black bears not usually on display, observe a training session and learn more about why each animal lives at Grandfather Mountain. Space is limited, so the behind-the-scenes tours must be booked in advance by calling 828-733-8715. At 11 a.m., visitors can join in “The Thicket Game” at the Let it Rain Picnic Shelter. At 12:30 p.m., staff members will host an animal encounter inside the Nature Museum with one of the educational animals which includes snakes, owls and a skunk! At 1 p.m. a Keeper Talk will be held outside the Fudge Shop to introduce guests to the different types of animals who live on Grandfather Mountain. Free birthday cake will be available from 1-4 p.m. at The Fudge Shop. At 1:30 p.m., join the Habitat Staff to make birthday enrichments for the animals at the Let It Rain picnic shelter including tasty treats such as piecrusts filled with fruit for the bears. The final activity of the day begins at 2:15 when winners of the test your knowledge contest are announced in the Nature Museum. The winner, along with one family member, wins a free behind-the-scenes tour of the animal habitats. Immediately after the announcement, head to the habitats to watch the animals receive their birthday enrichments.
3) Farmland Preservation Program Board Meets June 16
The Farmland Preservation Program Advisory Board will have a meeting on Monday, June 16 at 8 a.m. at the Soil and Water District Office located at 971 West King St. in Boone.
4) Blowing Rock Community Foundation Awards Scholarships
The Blowing Rock Community Foundation is proud to announce the scholarship recipients for 2014. The six students will join the current 18 scholarship recipients for a total of 24 scholarships awarded for the 2014-15 academic year. This includes the first recipient of the Jane and Dan Wolfe Scholarship – Cameron Linnville. Two scholarship recipients will graduate this May – Teresa Smith from North Carolina State University and Neta Linnville from St. Mary’s College. The Foundation initially awarded one full scholarship (including tuition, room and board, and books). In 1999, Amber Teague Bratt was the first Foundation scholarship recipient to complete her undergraduate degree. Since then, 83 students have received scholarships totaling more than $400,000. Of that number, more than 90 percent have graduated with undergraduate or associate degrees and many have or are in the process of obtaining advanced degrees. The Foundation is very proud of these scholarship recipients both past and present.