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Girl Scouts enter free at Grandfather Mountain on Sept. 17

Girl Scouts observe the black bears at Grandfather Mountain during the annual Girl Scout Day. The event returns Saturday, Sept. 17, offering free admission to participating troops. Photo courtesy of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation

GRANDFATHER MOUNTAIN, NC (September 5, 2016)…When Mildred the Bear was named an honorary Girl Scout, the Grandfather Mountain mascot could bear-ly contain her excitement.

That excitement continues today with the 46th annual Grandfather Mountain Girl Scout Day, returning to the Linville-based nature preserve and travel attraction Saturday, Sept. 17.

On Girl Scout Day, all Girl Scouts and their troop leaders are admitted free with proof of membership, while discounted admission is available for family members joining them.

The tradition started in 1971, when Grandfather Mountain “adopted the Girl Scouts.” The scouts returned the favor by adopting Mildred, even presenting her with special pins to celebrate her years with the organization.

Forty-five years later, scouts will return to Grandfather for a mountain’s worth of outdoor fun. This year’s event focuses on plant life, and staff naturalist Marisa Sedlak — a former Girl Scout, herself — promises it’ll be both fun and educational.

Mickey Shortt, Grandfather Mountain’s director of education, helps a Girl Scout identify a bird from atop Grandfather Mountain during the annual Girl Scout Day. The special day offers free admission to Girl Scouts, along with a variety of nature-related activities. Photo courtesy of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation
Mickey Shortt, Grandfather Mountain’s director of education, helps a Girl Scout identify a bird from atop Grandfather Mountain during the annual Girl Scout Day. The special day offers free admission to Girl Scouts, along with a variety of nature-related activities. Photo courtesy of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation

“I’m so excited for them to come up,” Sedlak said. “When I was a scout, it was always fun to explore different types of areas, from the coast to the mountains, and up here, we just have so many opportunities for hiking and being outdoors … there’s just so much for them to do and learn about, while playing around at the same time.”

New this year, many of the activities have been broken down by badge requirements for different age groups, Sedlak said, “so they’ll be able to knock out some steps to their badges.”

It’ll also be an opportunity for scouts to learn about Grandfather Mountain’s unique biodiversity.

“It’s something you can’t find in too many places in North Carolina,” Sedlak said, “so it’s a great opportunity to dive into the plants that are unique to this area.”

The 2016 event schedule is in full bloom:

9 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Check-in Table
Visit the Nature Museum to register your troop and work on a tree ID challenge. Your troop’s submission will be entered for a prize drawing at the end of the day.

9 to 9:45 a.m.: For Plants, Every Drop Counts
Geared toward Daisies and Brownies, this event teaches participants about the importance of water conservation for plants and trees through an interactive activity, during which Daisies can work toward their Green “Use Resources Wisely” petal. Meet at the Let-It-Rain Picnic Shelter.

10:30 to 11 a.m. and 11:05 to 11:35 a.m.: Tree Anatomy
With Juniors and Cadettes in mind, this activity is ideal for scouts who’ve wondered what goes on inside a tree. During this program, staff naturalists will describe the parts of a tree and the role they play in tree survival through an interactive activity. Meet at the Let-It-Rain Picnic Shelter.

10:30 to 11:15 a.m.: Advanced Plant ID
Designed for Seniors and Ambassadors, this activity will show scouts how to identify different tree species using a dichotomous key, while enjoying the beautiful scenery of Grandfather’s Black Rock Trail. Meet at Black Rock Trailhead.

11 a.m. to noon: Girl Scout Service Project
Intended for Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors, this program invites scouts to join Grandfather Mountain’s trail rangers in removing non-native plant species, while learning about the importance of native plants. Space is limited, so pre-registration is required by calling (828) 733-4326.

1 to 1:45 p.m.: Guided Hike on the Woods Walk Trail
Scouts of all ages are invited to join Grandfather naturalists for a guided hike to learn how to identify trees by their leaves. Meet at Woods Walk. Space is limited, so pre-registration is required by calling (828) 733-4326.

1 to 2 p.m.: Plants and Pollinators
Scouts, from Brownies through Cadettes, are invited to drop by the Butterfly Garden and play a game, all while learning the important role pollinators play in the lives of plants and trees. Meet at the Butterfly Garden near the Fudge Shop.

2:15 to 3:15 p.m.: Tree ID Art
Especially for Daisies and Brownies, this activity will teach scouts how to identify certain tree species and create their own piece of leaf-rubbing art. Meet at Woods Walk.

3:30 p.m.: Closing Ceremony
Scouts are invited to attend a short closing ceremony at Woods Walk.

Grandfather Mountain’s late mascot, Mildred the Bear, was named an honorary Girl Scout in 1971. Since then, the mountain has held an annual Girl Scout Day to celebrate the continuing relationship between Grandfather Mountain and the Girl Scouts of the USA. Photo by Hugh Morton | Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation
Grandfather Mountain’s late mascot, Mildred the Bear, was named an honorary Girl Scout in 1971. Since then, the mountain has held an annual Girl Scout Day to celebrate the continuing relationship between Grandfather Mountain and the Girl Scouts of the USA.
Photo by Hugh Morton | Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation

For more information on Girl Scout Day, call the Grandfather Mountain Naturalist Office at (828) 733-4326.

The not-for-profit Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation strives to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain. For more information, call (800) 468-7325, or visit www.grandfather.com to plan a trip.