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Beyond Bears and Bridges: Local History Dinner To Feature Grandfather Mountain President, Jesse Pope 

Few people, if any at all, know more about our area’s majestic Grandfather Mountain than does Jesse Pope, President and Executive Director of the non-profit, Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation. Photo submitted.

By Sherrie Norris 

As part of its monthly Local History Dinner, Foscoe Ruritan is pleased to announce a special presentation on Friday, June 23, by special guest, Jesse Pope, President and Executive Director of the non-profit, Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation. 

The event will be held from 5-8 p.m. at the Foscoe-Grandfather Community Center in Foscoe, in the shadows of the majestic national treasure that attracts thousands of visitors each year. 

Pope shared with High Country Press that he will be talking not only about the history of Grandfather Mountain, and the park itself,  but also about the ecological significance of the mountain; he will also give some insight into the leaders’vision for the future.

With two decades of experience working for the nature park in many capacities, Pope is likely one of the few experts alive today on all things Grandfather Mountain. His roles have included everything from backcountry ranger, zookeeper, chief naturalist and director of education and natural resource management, to the more recent appointment of vice president of operations, helping oversee day-to-day operations, before accepting the position of president and executive director in May, 2015. 

Perfect for the lead position, Pope attended Lees-McRae College, in Banner Elk for his undergraduate degree and completed his graduate studies in environmental education at Montreat College in Black Mountain.

Pope is “very passionate,” he shared, about the mission of the stewardship foundation to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain. He is an avid birdwatcher and recognized as “a professional naturalist” by his colleagues.

As anyone who knows him can attest, Pope is dedicated to the community and has been actively involved in a number of non-profit and government appointed positions during his career. He currently serves on boards of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, Blue Ridge Conservancy, Williams YMCA of Avery County and the Avery Humane Society, to name a few.

A native of nearby Grayson County, Va. Pope grew up on the banks of the New River, acquiring a love for the land and the great outdoors at an early age. He and his wife, Michelle, celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, have three children; Spencer (12), and twins Trevor (9) and Lily (9).

The Foscoe Ruritan counts it a great honor to welcome Pope as their special guest on Friday. The Local History Dinner, is a fundraiser of the club, with all proceeds going to support local families with unmet needs.

The cost of the event is $10 per person. Guests are encouraged to stay for the meal — and what promises to be a very interesting presentation — but if unable to do so, meal take-outs will be available.

 The Foscoe-Community Center is located at 233 Park Rd. Banner Elk; just off Hwy 105 behind the trout farm and next to the campground.

 To learn more about the park at Grandfather Mountain, visit www.grandfather.com.