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Brandi Haney, on left, with the award-winning illustration for the new Junior Ranger Patch, with Katherine Tufts, a finalist in the artwork contest.
Photos courtesy Michael Hardy

Originally published: 2013-09-18 15:55:53
Last modified: 2013-09-18 15:56:37

Grandfather Mountain State Park introduces new Junior Ranger Patch

Michael Hardy / (

One of the many advantages of living in the High Country is having North Carolina's newest state park in our backyard. Grandfather Mountain State Park became a reality in 2008. This past Sunday, Sept. 15, the park held its annual family day, a popular event to showcase the park and its many educational and recreational opportunities.
Beautiful, fall-like weather greeted scores of families as they wandered around the field at the Grandfather Mountain Campground. Families could learn about honeybees from local beekeepers, about weather and climate from NASA scientists, local plants and herbs from the Gardens of the Blue Ridge and about animals from the Genesis Wildlife Rehabilitators.
Programs throughout the day included hands-on experiences with the animals and ecosystems that are a central part of Grandfather Mountain, including the wildflowers, since in 2013 the North Carolina State Parks are celebrating the Year of the Wildflower.
Volunteers also presented demonstrations on the ever-popular sport of fly-fishing, the art of campfire cooking and packing hiking essentials. Two local musical groups, the Blue Ridge Mountain Belles and the Junaluska Wildcats, kept the crowd entertained. The event included door prizes, followed by an entertaining skit by park rangers illustrating just a few of the diverse jobs that a ranger can have.
The highlight of the afternoon was the unveiling of the new Grandfather Mountain State Park Junior Ranger patch. Each of North Carolina's State Parks has its own Junior Ranger Patch, and, in order to help educate local students about the park, a contest was held at Avery High to select the design for the patch. The drawings were required to feature an endangered flying squirrel, and the entry by Avery County High School student Brandi Haney was chosen as the winner from 100 contest entries.

To read the complete story, please pick up a copy of your hometown newspaper, The Avery Journal-Times, available at almost 100 locations in Newland, Banner Elk, Crossnore, Spruce Pine and Roan Mountain, Tenn. To subscribe to The Avery Journal-Times, please call (828) 733-0401 or click to