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Renovations to expand programs at discovery center
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Renovations to expand programs at discovery center

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TROUTDALE, Va. — The aim of the Blue Ridge Discovery Center, when it was created in 2008, was to offer hands-on experiential learning for all ages while building the next generation of stewards of the land.

For that, the nature center is off to a good start with the renovation of a new residential education facility and development of nature programs for all ages.

According to Lisa Benish, program director, the center initially operated without a physical space until 2017, when it was gifted to the Konnarock Retreat House in the Konnarock community near Troutdale.

The 17,000-square-foot building is being renovated this summer with plans to complete the facility by the summer of 2021.

The campus will include a field station and campground, a residential education facility and an interpretive/visitor center for the region.

According to the program manager, a matching grant of $500,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission was awarded to the center to help with the cost of the renovations.

“Eventually, our goal is to offer extended-stay programs for young students — perhaps three days and two nights. That would allow us to engage much deeper than what can be done in a couple of afternoons.

“We want to be that destination field trip where students can come and learn throughout the school year.”

Benish said the center continues to conduct fundraising activities to help raise money for the completion of the facility. Donations of any amount are welcome and can be mailed to Blue Ridge Discovery Center, 6402 Whitetop Road, Troutdale, VA 24378.

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