Grandfather Mountain releases 2020 field course lineup

LINVILLE, NC (March 10, 2020) — At Grandfather Mountain, education is literally a top priority.

After all, when your classroom is a mile high, the sky is the limit. Even for grown-ups.

Topics include birding, stargazing, photography, climate change and more…

Grandfather Mountain’s ‘Sunrise and Landscape Photography’ field course will grant participants early access to the mountain to photograph the sunrise and the park’s many morning wonders. Photo by Skip Sickler | Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation

The Linville, N.C.-based nature preserve is bringing its Adult Field Course series back for 2020, offering participants the chance to explore Grandfather Mountain like never before.

“These courses allow students to examine specific aspects of the park ecosystem through fun field excursions,” said Amy Renfranz, director of education for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, the nonprofit organization that owns and operates the park. “Our course leaders are experts in their fields and include professors, naturalists, scientists and acclaimed photographers, writers, historians and artists.”

The series runs from May through October, with topics including birding, stargazing, photography, sketching, ecology and climate change.

Courses cost $60 per person (or $25 for members of Grandfather Mountain’s Bridge Club membership program), with registration required in advance at www.grandfather.com.

Most courses run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., unless otherwise stated, and participants are asked to bring their own lunch to be eaten in the field.

Courses include:

Owl Identification & Behavior on Grandfather Mountain – March 28

Grandfather Mountain’s ‘Owl Identification’ field course will acquaint participants with the nocturnal birds of prey through an after-dark adventure in the park. Photo courtesy of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation

Owls represent the “night shift” for birds of prey. For most of us, they are known only as mysterious sounds from the woods behind one’s house or in the background of a movie. Led by High Country Audubon’s Steve Dowlan, the course will attempt to more intimately acquaint participants with these mysterious sounds by spending time with a few captive owls, as well as looking for several owl species in their native habitats within the park after dark. To register or learn more, visit grandfather.com/event/owl-ecology-and-behavior/.

Advanced Birding: Spring Migration – April 25

Also led by Dowlan, this course will explore such birding aspects as seasonal plumage, molt, nestling growth, seasonal occurrence, habitat requirements and similarities between related and sometimes completely unrelated species. Acquiring a basic understanding of these factors can help participants to more quickly find the right section of their field guide and arrive at the most likely identification for the bird in their binoculars. To register or learn more, visit grandfather.com/event/advanced-birding-spring-migration/.

Sunrise & Landscape Photography – May 2

Grandfather Mountain offers one of the most picturesque landscapes in the southeast. Join photographer Tommy White in an exploration of the park before regular business hours to watch the sun rise over the mountains and play with light in the forest. To register or learn more, visit grandfather.com/event/sunrise-landscape-photography-on-grandfather-mountain/.

Spring Sketching on Grandfather Mountain – May 9

Led by artist and educator Preston Montague, participants will learn how to tell a story through the arrangement of objects in a sketchbook, as well as basic observation and drawing techniques with pen, pencil and colored pencils. Though designed for beginners, students with more intermediate skills are encouraged to join. To register or learn more, visit grandfather.com/event/spring-sketching-on-grandfather-mountain/.

Exploring Grandfather’s Natural Communities – Aug. 1

Grandfather Mountain is often referred to as the “Canada of the South” – and it’s true. Some of the species here also thrive in the far North. Join Dr. Patrick McMillan, host of PBS’s “Expeditions with Patrick McMillan,” in exploration of the 16 natural communities on Grandfather Mountain, from rocky summit to hardwood forests. To register or learn more, visit grandfather.com/event/exploring-grandfather-mountains-natural-communities/.

The Artist’s Workshop: Late Summer Sketching – Sept. 12

Led by artist and educator Preston Montague, participants will learn how to tell a story through the arrangement of objects in a sketchbook, as well as basic observation and drawing techniques with pen, pencil and colored pencils. Though designed for beginners, students with more intermediate skills are encouraged to join. To register or learn more, visit grandfather.com/event/the-artists-workshop-late-summer-sketching/.

The Changing Climate & Grandfather Mountain – Sept. 19

Climate change is coming to Grandfather Mountain, whether we want it to or not. How will this affect the plants and animals who live on this mountain, some of which grow nowhere else in the world? Led by forest ecologist Dr. Howard Neufeld, this course will examine the various plant communities along an elevational gradient on Grandfather Mountain, from the deciduous forests at the lowest parts of the park to the rare and endangered spruce-fir forests that reside at the uppermost peaks. To register, visit grandfather.com/event/the-changing-climate-grandfather-mountain/.

Grandfather’s Starry Skies – Oct. 24 

Grandfather Mountain’s ‘Starry Skies’ field course will teach participants the basics of stargazing, featuring an excursion onto the mountain after dark. Photo by Jim Magruder | www.magruderphotography.com

Led by astronomer Stephan Martin, this course will help participants create a familiarity with the night sky and learn the basics of stargazing. Topics include the use of planispheres, star maps and star charts to identify some of the deep sky wonders that can be seen through binoculars or small telescopes. During the evening hours, participants will venture to various locations on the mountain, practicing our stargazing skills while looking for meteors and learning about some of the most prominent stars, constellations and other objects visible this time of year. To register or learn more, visit grandfather.com/event/grandfathers-starry-skies/.

And More

For more information, visit bit.ly/gfmfieldcourses, or call 828-733-2013. To learn more about the Bridge Club membership program, visit bit.ly/gfmbridgeclub.

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.