Linville Land Harbor demonstrated its support for the education of Avery Country students with a generous donation to the Grandfather Mountain Field Trip Scholarship Fund this June.

The donation, made on behalf of the community’s property owners association, will directly benefit Avery county students from Title I schools and give them an opportunity to visit Grandfather Mountain. In addition to entry to the park, the fund can also assist in payment for transportation and meals.

The Scholarship Fund was established in 2015 in the memory of the late Nathan Pribble, a teenager who had a strong passion for the outdoors, connecting with nature and Grandfather Mountain. His parents decided to honor their son after his passing by establishing the fund to share Nathan’s passion with students who may not get the opportunity to visit the mountain without aid.

Mickey Shortt, director of education and natural resources for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, said that the students come to see a piece of Western North Carolina, as well as gain experience with naturalist programming of their teacher’s choice to enrich their lessons from their curriculum.

“The program is a bridge that connects the classroom to the real world,” Shortt said. “They get to experience the top of the mountain and cross the Mile High Swinging Bridge, as well as a special naturalist program that the teacher picks based on their curriculum. This enables them to understand the concepts they are learning about in school at a practical level.”

Shortt said there are upwards of 20 possible programs with varying subjects, including weather, geology, animals, ecology and plant life.

Shelly Johnston, GMSF director of development, said the numbers from last year attest to the program’s significance and success. In 2015, 13 schools from eight counties received $7,002 in scholarships to assist with field trip expenses.

Need for the scholarship fund has increased for the 2016-17 school year. Johnston reported 17 applications for the fund so far, submitted from seven different counties, requesting a total of $33,000 in field trip support funds, which creates a current need for the program.

“Linville Land Harbor is a benevolent neighbor in the community,” Johnston said of the recent donation. “Their money will go directly toward supporting the children in their community of Avery County.”

Johnston reached out to Linville Land Harbor after seeing their passion for supporting local schoolchildren, as the group has hosted a back-to-school bash for Avery County students for the past two years. Linville Land Harbor will now continue to support these students by providing them with the opportunity to visit Grandfather Mountain.

Tyler Hood, a representative from Linville Land Harbor, said the donation is a testament to the group’s long-standing involvement in the community.

“Linville Land Harbor is a community, first and foremost,” Hood said. “The success of Avery County is important to us, because it’s what many of us call home. Since 1969, Land Harbor has taken an active role in helping our local communities, and our ongoing mission is to better our community and local area. “We hope this donation will inspire future generations of Avery County students to appreciate the nature around them and instill a desire to maintain it for the generations to come.”

The stewardship foundation received an additional grant from Wells Fargo and its corporate giving fund, dedicated to community investment. This donation will also go toward supporting the scholarship fund.

Candace Pritchard, business relationship manager and market president for the Morganton office of Wells Fargo, said the grant committee loves Grandfather Mountain and is passionate about the program offering Title 1 schools the opportunity to visit the mountain. Shortt said for many students, this is the trip of a lifetime.

“The students are wowed and amazed by visiting such a unique landscape as Grandfather Mountain,” he said.