SNP hosts special programs

From contributed reports

Shenandoah National Park and the SNP Association are host two special programs in June featuring renowned authors who will inspire enthusiasm and care for nature and the outdoors. Both programs will be held at Byrd Visitor Center (milepost 51 on Skyline Drive).

The first, “Cerulean Blues: Saving a Vanishing Songbird” is 1 p.m. Saturday, June 8 and explores the relationship between the cerulean warbler, a tiny migratory songbird, and the threats to its survival due to mountaintop removal coal mining, deforestation and climate change.

Katie Fallon, author of the book “Cerulean Blues: A Personal Search for a Vanishing Songbird,” will highlight the connections between a morning cup of coffee and an ecologically devastating mining practice and show how the fate of a creature weighing less than an ounce is vitally linked to our own.

Fallon is one of the founders of the Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia, a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving wild birds through research, education and rehabilitation. In addition to her book, her writing has appeared in a variety of magazines and literary journals, and she has taught creative writing at Virginia Tech and West Virginia University.

The second program, “Get Your Kids Hiking!,” takes place at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 15. Jeff Alt, a family hiking expert and author of “Get Your Kids Hiking,” teams up with park rangers to lead kids and accompanying adults on a short hike loaded with hands-on family hiking tips and ways to explore the outdoors. Learn how a few simple techniques and some basic equipment can turn any walk in the woods into a safe, fun-filled adventure that kids of all ages and parents will enjoy.  Come prepared for a short walk. Open to children of all ages.

In addition, Alt is presenting his “A Walk for Sunshine Appalachian Trail Program” at 4 p.m. that same Saturday, in the Great Room at Big Meadows Lodge. Alt is an expert hiker, a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA) and the author of three award-winning books,

His adventures and hiking expertise have been featured in national media including ESPN, the Hallmark Channel, the Discovery Channel, the Associated Press, CNN-Radio, New Dimensions National Public Radio and Scholastic Parent and Child.

Fallon and Alt will both be available to sign copies of their books at Byrd Visitor Center following their programs. The programs are free and everyone is welcome. There is a $15-per-car entrance fee to the park, which is good for seven days. For more information about these and other park programs, visit