Roan Mountain, TN

Renowned Naturalists to Speak at 64th Annual Spring Naturalist Rally in Roan Mountain State Park

John M. Dabbs

Roan Mountain State Park is gearing up for the 64th Annual Spring Naturalist Rally from April 28-30, and organizers couldn't be more excited about what's in store. The Friends of Roan Mountain State Park are putting the finishing touches on the event, which promises to be one of the most informative and entertaining yet.

This year's rally will feature guest speakers Connie Deegan and Tavia Cathcart Brown, renowned naturalists and educators. Deegan, a herpetologist with the Johnson City Parks and Recreation Department, will discuss "Co-existing With Snakes" during the Friday evening program. Her presentation will highlight snakes' crucial role in maintaining the ecosystem and provide tips on what to do if you encounter one. Deegan is a multiple award-winning conservationist and educator, receiving the Tennessee Wildlife Federation Conservation Achievement Award and the 2022 Pinnacle Award for Adventure Tourism Leader.

On Saturday evening, Tavia Cathcart Brown, executive director of the Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve in Goshen, Kentucky, will discuss "Flora Lora and Uses." Brown will share her expertise on the medicinal properties of plants, drawing from her experience establishing a two-acre Woodland Garden that features native wildflowers and ferns. Brown's presentation will also include stories and legends about wildflowers and their significance in different cultures. Brown is a highly regarded lecturer, educator, writer, and photographer and co-authored the field guide "Wildflowers of Tennessee, the Ohio Valley, and Southern Appalachians."

But that's just the beginning. The rally's schedule is packed with activities and field trips that showcase the natural beauty of Roan Mountain State Park and the surrounding area. From birds to wildflowers, there's something for everyone to enjoy. Participants can expect a flint knapping demonstration, a nature slide show, and a program on native orchids to North America and nearby by Mary Ruden. Field trips will take participants to Jones Falls, Hampton Creek Cove, Laurel Falls, and various other locations.

This year's rally will also highlight the importance of nature education and conservation efforts. According to a report by The Nature Conservancy, spending time in nature has numerous physical and mental health benefits, including reducing stress, boosting the immune system, and improving cognitive function. Studies have also shown that exposure to nature can increase empathy and compassion towards others and motivate people to engage in pro-environmental behavior.

The Friends of Roan Mountain State Park are committed to preserving the natural beauty of the park and surrounding areas. The Spring Naturalist Rally is an excellent opportunity for participants to learn more about the importance of conservation and participate in various conservation efforts. The event is open to people of all ages and backgrounds, making it an ideal family-friendly outing that fosters a love for the outdoors and environmental awareness.

Registration for the weekend can be done online at, and early registration is encouraged. With the final preparations underway, the organizers of the 64th Annual Spring Naturalist Rally look forward to welcoming participants for an unforgettable outdoor education and adventure weekend.

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An outdoor enthusiast with a passion for travel and adventure, John is a consultant and writer..

Bristol, TN

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