Grandfather Presents

Grandfather Presents

Our 2022 speaker series at the Wilson Center for Nature Discovery includes three big Thursday night events with internationally and nationally known presenters. It also includes four Saturday afternoon presentations focused on nature, adventure or conservation-related topics on a local or regional scale.

2022 Schedule of Speakers

Thursday, July 14: Rick Ridgeway, Outdoor Adventurer, 6 p.m.
Rick Ridgeway is an outdoor adventurer, writer and advocate for sustainability and conservation initiatives. Rick was also the VP of Environmental Affairs and VP of Public Engagement at Patagonia, Inc. As one of the world’s foremost mountaineers, Rick was one of the first Americans to summit K2. During his explorations on all continents, Rick witnessed the degradations of the wildlands that transformed his life. His work has earned him National Geographic’s  “Lifetime Achievement in Adventure” award. Rick has produced dozens of television shows and written seven books, including his memoir Life Lived Wild released in October 2021. Tickets ($50/person) on sale June 6. Read more and purchase tickets. 

Saturday, July 30: Tracy Swartout, “Protecting the Parkway: The ‘Forever’ Business”, 2 p.m.
Tracy Swartout is a native of the Carolinas, and began her job as Superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway during the summer of 2021. Tracy, who has worked for the National Park Service for over 22 years, will share some of the critical challenges facing the Blue Ridge Parkway as it approaches its 100th anniversary in 2035. This event is included with your park admission ticket. RSVP beginning July 11. Read more and reserve your spot.

Thursday, August 4: Ginger Zee, ABC News Chief Meterologist, 6 p.m. 
Ginger Zee is the chief meteorologist and managing editor of the climate unit at ABC News. She covers the nation’s weather headlines and historic storms on Good Morning America and across all ABC News broadcasts and digital platforms. The Emmy and Murrow Award-winning meteorologist’s latest book, A Little Closer to Home: How I Found the Calm After the Storm debuted in January 2022 and focuses on Ginger’s own depression and journey of discovery around mental health issues. Ginger is the face and voice of Grandfather’s new Weather and Climate exhibit in the Wilson Center. Tickets ($50/person) on sale June 24. Read more and purchase tickets.

Saturday, August 13: Charlie Brady, “Strategically Protecting Land to Ensure Access to Natural Places for Everyone,” 2 p.m.
Charlie Brady is the Executive Director of Blue Ridge Conservancy, a non-profit organization that has protected over 23,000 acres of land in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey Counties in western N.C. In addition to protecting working farmland, BRC’s efforts have resulted in the creation of state natural areas, such as Beech Creek Bog, Bear Paw and Bullhead Mountain. This event is included with your park admission ticket. Free RSVP beginning July 11. Read more and reserve your seat.

Saturday, August 27: Mike Leonard, “Stories from the Conservation Deal Maker for Grandfather Mountain… and another 150,000 Mountain Acres,” 2 p.m.
You are sure to enjoy Mike’s entertaining back-stories on key land conservation deals at and around the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Mike served as the chair of the Board of Directors for The Conservation Fund from 2014-2019 and has participated in negotiating conservation agreements protecting more than a quarter million acres. He currently who serves on the Board of Directors for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation. Free RSVP beginning August 2. Read more and reserve your seat.

Saturday, September 17: Andy Hill, “Watauga River Conservation: Emerging, Innovative Solutions,” 2 p.m.
Andy Hill is the MountainTrue High Country Regional Director and Watauga Riverkeeper. He has a passion for clean, cold, fishable, drinkable and swimmable water. As a long-time fly fisherman, educator and guide, he is intimately familiar with our watershed from the headwaters to the tailwater and is passionate about protecting the places we love. MountainTrue is an environmental advocacy organization serving the Southern Blue Ridge. This event is included with your park admission ticket. Free RSVP beginning August 15. Read more and reserve your seat.

Thursday, September 29: Conor Knighton, CBS Sunday Morning Correspondent, 6 p.m.
Conor Knighton is a correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning, America’s #1 Sunday news morning program. His debut nonfiction book, Leave Only Footprints: My Acadia-to-Zion Journey Through Every National Park was recently certified as a New York Times bestseller. Conor is also the creator and producer of “On the Trail,” a series of CBS Sunday Morning stories on the national parks. Conor recently won his third Daytime Emmy as part of the CBS Sunday Morning team. Tickets ($50/person) go on sale August 24. Read more and purchase tickets.

Tickets & Schedule
Thursdays: $50 per person | Light bites and drinks 5:30-6 p.m. | Presentation 6-7 p.m. | Book signing with speaker 7-8 p.m.

Saturdays: Included with daily admission ticket (free with Bridge Club Annual Pass) | RSVP required | Presentation 2-3 p.m. | Chat with speakers 30 minutes before and after

Grandfather Presents Series Pass – $120 (savings of $30)

  • Only available to Bridge Club Members
  • On sale May 1 – July 13. 
  • 1 ticket to each of the three Thursday night events
  • Bridge Club Member may purchase more than one “series pass”
  • Limited number available

Grandfather Presents Pro Series Pass – $200 (savings of $40)

  • Only available to Bridge Club Members
  • On sale May 1 – July 13. 
  • 1 ticket to each of the three Thursday night events
  • 1 ticket to each of the three Thursday VIP intimate receptions to meet the speaker
  • Bridge Club Member may purchase more than one “series pass”
  • Only 30 available

Series Pass Refunds/Cancelations
The majority of Grandfather Mountain events generally sell out and have a waiting list. If you cannot attend the event that you registered for please let us know. Full refunds will be given to individuals who reach out to us at least five days before the event. This allows time for individuals on the waiting list to make accommodations to attend the event. To cancel your registration please call 828-733-2013 Monday-Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Grandfather Mountain | Home to the Swinging Bridge, Animal Habitats and Nature Museum

GPS: 2050 Blowing Rock Highway, Linville, NC 28646
Mailing: PO Box 129, Linville, NC 28646

Owned & operated by Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.
Go here for Grandfather Mountain State Park information.
Member of Southern Highlands Attractions