The Red River Gorge Discovery Zone (RRGDZ) held their end of season dinner on December 2nd at Thyme Savor Off the Beaten Path on Bowen, KY, organized by Sandra Hall. Red River Gorge Discovery Zone (RRGDZ) is a pop-up discovery zone emphasizing Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM), with activities for kids (of all ages) focused on the Red River Gorge, conservation, and local history.
The dinner started with an overview of the season, presented by Judy Dourson. RRGDZ ran 13 events this season. Children were provided a RRGDZ passport showing all the events of the 2022 season and got stamps each time they attended. In the 2022 season, 526 children (plus the Fair day parade and Kiwanis Christmas parade) and 284 parents (plus the Fair day parade and Kiwanis Christmas parade) participated in Discovery Zone events. There were a total of 140 volunteers during the events (57 different from 22 organizations).
Highlights of various events included: being interviewed by Jason Lindsey on WKYT, working with 200 children on Halloween activities at Callie’s Campground, purchasing a trailer and getting it wrapped with the RRGDZ and sponsor logos – then covering it with lights to participate in the Kiwanis Christmas Parade.
The numerous sponsors and volunteers were acknowledged, particularly TC Energy Foundation and Powell County Tourism. The winning Explorers were then honored by Sandra Hall and Jane Hayes.
Jake Bowman was awarded Co-Explorer of the Year by attending nine events. Jake is the son of John and Alicia Bowman of Clay City. Jake said his favorite part of Discovery Zone’s 2022 season was “all of it.”
Sylas Clark was awarded Co-Explorer of the Year by attending nine events. He is the son of James and Chelsea Clark of Clay City. Sylas said his favorite part of the 2022 season was the computer activity (Hour of Code). The Co-Explorers earned a certificate and hooded sweatshirts honoring their achievement as Explorer of the Year. Katie Neal designed the logo for the hoodies and Belinda Lynn designed the certificates.
Landry Clark was awarded Junior Explorer of the Year by attending six events. She is the daughter of James and Chelsea Clark of Clay City. She was unsure of her favorite part of the 2022 season, but really liked seeing her picture in the PowerPoint presentation. She earned a certificate and RRGDZ t-shirt.
Lynne Stidham and Jane Hayes honored the hardworking volunteers of the RRGDZ with sweatshirts, with the logo designed by Belinda Lynn. The dinner ended with a photo session, with all Explorer winners and volunteers joining in.
The next evening, a well-lit “in the Christmas spirit” RRGDZ trailer (thanks to the Stidham brothers) was part of the Kiwanis Christmas Parade. The trailer was towed by Greg Hayes. Suzy Brown and Jane Hayes provided candy and activity cards to children along the parade route.
Funded by a grant from TC Energy Foundation and a smaller grant from Powell County Tourism Commission, the all-volunteer effort includes other organizations and team members not listed above: Rachel Addison Miller (Lee County Schools and DAR), Ann Smith (DAR and Red River Historical Society and Museum), Rita Shepherd (Powell County Tourism), Patty Gordon (DAR), Judith Wilson and Sharon Robinson (both with DAR), Bea Snowden (KRTA), Keith Caudill (TC Energy), Miranda Fallen, Monica Mynk (Montgomery County Schools), Jason Vaughn (Powell Cooperative Extension Office), and Suzy Brown and Charlotte Denniston (both of KRTA and Powell County Library). Stacy Stidham towed the trailer, transported the supplies, and led set up and tear down. Greg Hayes assisted with trailer modifications. Organizations/individuals who donated or loaned items to assist the Discovery Zone include Beechfork Golf Club, Powell Cooperative Extension Office, Selina Howard, Troy Brooks, Delbert Brown, Ace Hardware of Stanton, Whitaker Bank, Chris Allen, Citizens Guaranty Bank, James Clark, Rogers Hardware, Stanton Parks and Rec Board, Powell County Schools, Soil Conservation Office, Red River Historical Society and Museum, Suzy Brown, Red River Valley Chapter of the DAR, Diane Mier, Hussam Nasir, and Darren Wasson. Father Al Fritsch of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Appalachia Science in the Public Interest, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, and Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church (Stanton) was the inspiration for the Discovery Zone.
The Discovery Zone will pop-up next at Breakfast with Santa on December 10th at the Trillium Room in the Lodge at Natural Bridge State Resort park. Check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/rrgdiscoveryzone/ for our 2022 schedule and join us at the next event!