April 16-18, 2019

Mill Mountain Zoo’s Spring Break Zoo Venture is back!  As in years past, each day has a special theme and is chocked full of fun and educational activities. There will be hands-on interactions with animals, guided zoo tours, games, art activities, stories and more.  To make it easy for any schedule, parents can pick and choose half days or full days and can enroll their children in one day or in all three! To volunteer to help, RSVP to Bambi Godkin bgodkin@mmzoo.org

Tuesday, April 16-Eew, That’s Gross!
Scent marking, regurgitation, eating your own skin and even eating your own…dare we say it?  Poo!  These are just a few of the behaviors animals can engage in that people may find pretty yucky.  Campers will spend the day learning why these behaviors are so important and how they actually help animals survive.

Wednesday, April 17-Extreme Animals
Many animals have amazing abilities that allow them to do extreme things.  How does a snow leopard stay warm in cold mountain temperatures?  What helps certain animals feel so at home in the water?  Campers will explore these adaptations and many others that allow animals to live and thrive in extreme conditions and do extreme things.

Thursday, April 18-Animal Detectives
What makes a bird a bird or a mammal a mammal?  Do reptiles always have scales?  Campers will learn about how animals are classified and use their detective skills to identify various animals at the zoo.

Blue Ridge Discovery Center Summer Camp Registration is now Open!

Blue Ridge Discovery Center

Below is a list of our most popular summer camps for youth aged 9-15! (Ages vary by camp; see individual camp descriptions.)

Do you know a budding birder? If so, check out our Ornithology Camp where participants will have the opportunity to discover the birds of the Blue Ridge with expert birders.

Does a child you know like to ride the rapids? Our New River Expedition covers 30 miles of the New River over the course of 4 days, with new experiences around every bend!

If fly fishing is more their forte, youth aged 11-15 are encouraged to join our Fly Fishing Camp, where our seasoned guides can help all skill levels develop their techniques.

Does your novice naturalist have a variety of interests? If so, our Wilderness Discovery Camp is the place for them!

For camp descriptions and other important details, visit our website or click on the titles above.

Space is limited for each camp, so reserve your child’s spot early!

Register Today!
Looking to save some green? 

We are now offering two incentive programs for the overnight camps:

Friend Referral

With our Friend Referral, you receive a $50 refund for each family you refer who registers a child for one of our overnight camps! Refer two families and get a $100 refund! And so on . . .

You may receive referral refunds up to the full amount of your child’s camp registration fee, so invite as many friends as you wish to register for Ornithology Camp, New River Expedition, Fly Fishing Camp, or Wilderness Discovery.
  1. Register your child for one of the camps listed.
  2. Invite your friends to register, and have them mention your name during the registration process.
  3. Receive your refund(s) within 3 business days of referral registration. It’s that easy!
Camp Family
Have more than one child between 9-15 interested in experiencing our overnight camps? Use discount code CAMPFAM19 to save 5% off each registration fee!

This discount applies to siblings for overnight camps only. Siblings do not have to register for the same camp; simply enter the discount code during each registration.

Register Today!


Our mailing address is:

Blue Ridge Discovery Center

6402 Whitetop Rd

TroutdaleVA 24378

Some Spiders Make Antifreeze, says U. Wisconsin-Green Bay Prof

As the air grows chillier and the days get shorter, there are fewer bugs. That doesn’t mean these bugs necessarily die, however. Many insects survive Wisconsin’s cold winters as eggs.

Spider eggs can’t survive being frozen, so these arachnids have come up with different ways to stay alive during the winter months, said Mike Draney, a biology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay who studies spiders.

While many spiders lay eggs in the fall, those eggs hatch and little baby spiderlings spend the winter in the egg sacs to keep warm. Whether spiders are babies or fully mature adults, they have to undergo a process of cold hardening for winter survival.

“So nights like this where it gets cold but it doesn’t freeze, it sort of tells their body to start producing, actually, antifreeze compounds. They’re very similar to the kind we put in our car, and they build these up in their tissues and it lowers the temperature at which they freeze,” Draney said.

Then the spiders behaviorally know they have to go to places where they’re sheltered, like leaf litter or cracks of bark. Those places, combined with the antifreeze, keep them alive in the winter.

Another kind of spider produces eggs in the spring. These spiders survive in the winter as young creatures. Once the winter ends, they mature, mate, and produce eggs. This category includes wolf spiders, jumping spiders and running spiders. The biologist said none of these make webs.

There’s also a small winter community of spiders in Wisconsin living in the space between the ground and the snow, a hollow space that is warmer than the air temperature, Draney said.

Putting a spider outside in the wintertime, as an ecologically-conscious home owner might do, is not the best decision to help that spider.

“Once it gets to be wintertime and consistently below freezing, exporting a house spider outside is pretty much a death sentence, because they really do need this time to build up the anti-freezing compounds,” the biologist said.

His recommendation? Leave the spiders alone and give them free reign. To become a mature adult, the spider has likely eaten at least 40 insects, and they need to keep eating insects to stay alive.

But if you absolutely can’t stand the idea of spiders in your house, Draney said putting them in the garage will probably keep them alive through the coldest months.

The nightmarish Asian longhorned tick has invaded the U.S.—and it can reproduce without mating (Popular Science)

…the critters have spread to at least eight states—New Jersey, Virginia, West Virginia, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Maryland…So far the ticks haven’t caused any diseases that we know of, but the CDC is still trying to contain the spread as much as possible. In Asia, longhorned ticks can carry all kinds of infectious parasites and bacteria, including Anaplasma, Babesia, Borrelia, Ehrlichia, and Rickettsia.


STEM Tavern @ Soaring Ridge Craft Brewers

December 12: Vanessa Guerra “Beyond Informality: A new approach to inclusive cities”

As cities deal with the effects of climate change and population growth, informal practices have become more common over the years. Although these practices are often stereotyped as urban mistakes, acknowledging the potential of the informal sector, and paying attention to what we can learn from it, could lead to the start of a new approach to alleviate poverty, empower isolated communities, and promote sustainable development.

PhD candidate in Environmental Design and Planning at the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech. Researcher at the Global Forum for Urban Regional Resilience (GFURR) and DE Lab Decision Engineering for Sustainable Infrastructure. Her work focus on urban interventions as potential contributions to poverty reduction and sustainable development. Her research interests include informal urbanism, sustainable transport, spatial justice and urban inequality. She has presented her work in several conferences across the United States, the United Kingdom and South America, and has spoken at a TEDx event in Quito-Ecuador and at Cityworks (Xpo) in Roanoke. Prior to Virginia Tech, Vanessa worked as a project architect, participated with the University of Melbourne-Australia in the project “How Sustainable Transport Networks Build Great Cities” at Munich and Zurich, and taught at USFQ University in Quito-Ecuador, where she also coordinated the seminar “Ecuador towards Habitat III”