Grandfather Mountain, one of Appalachia’s most storied peaks, will be the subject of a program at Lees-McRae College. On November 7, at 7:00 p.m. in the Stafford Room of the Carson Library, Jesse Pope ’02 will present his lecture, Explorations of a Changing Environment at a Southern Appalachian Jewel: Grandfather Mountain, as part of this fall’s Stephenson Center for Appalachia’s lecture series. This event is free and open to the public.
Pope started the naturalist education program at Grandfather Mountain, and last year was selected as a member of “Forty for the Future,” travel’s leading talent project by the Southeast Tourism Society. As Director of Education and Natural Resources for Grandfather Mountain, Pope has elevated the environmental education profile of the mountain significantly.
Naturalist Pope developed the project after working on the mountain as a trail ranger and a habitat keeper. A graduate of Lees-McRae College with a naturalist major, Pope found himself continually answering people’s questions about the mountain as he did his job. He realized that there was a need here that wasn’t being met.
“A lot of people came through and got to see what’s up here, but never understood the ecology. People always had so many questions, but it is a tough job for habitat staff to answer questions and give tours as well as care for the animals,” said Pope, so he proposed and created the naturalist education program in 2004. Since then he and his staff have provided insight to the mountain’s treasures to thousands of visitors.
“We are pleased to welcome one of our own graduates back to Lees-McRae to present his program," said Dr. Michael Joslin, director of the Stephenson Center for Appalachia. "Jesse is not only extremely knowledgeable about area ecology, but he has dedicated himself to sharing his knowledge and increasing awareness of the beauty and richness of our mountain environment. We invite everyone to share the evening with us as Jesse takes us on an exploration of Grandfather Mountain.”
Stephenson Center for Appalachia lectures are free and open to the public. Jesse Pope’s presentation will begin at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 7 in the Stafford Room of the Carson Library at Lees-McRae. For further information contact Megan Hall, director of communications, at 828-898-8729.
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