Grandfather Mountain grants field trip scholarships to NC schools

Last Updated on June 27, 2019 6:03 pm

LINVILLE, N.C. — Grandfather Mountain gives students the chance to take their love of nature to new heights — literally.

This fall, the Grandfather Mountain Field Trip Scholarship Fund, in honor of the late Nathan Pribble, will provide $5,000 in field trip assistance to six North Carolina schools, allowing some 425 students to visit Grandfather Mountain’s classroom in the clouds.

The school recipients were Balls Creek Elementary, located in Catawba County; Courtney Elementary, located in Yadkin County; Deyton Elementary, located in Mitchell County; Eastlawn Elementary, from the Alamance-Burlington School System; Ray Childers Elementary, located in Burke County; and Salem Elementary, also in Burke County.

The Grandfather Mountain Field Trip Scholarship Fund benefits school groups in need of financial assistance to defray the cost of an educational field trip to the Linville, N.C., nature park.

During these field trips, children have the opportunity to connect with Grandfather Mountain’s natural environment — an opportunity that they might not have had before.

 “Grandfather Mountain is an awesome place, and we’re so thankful to have the opportunity for our students to come on the Nathan Pribble Scholarship,” a teacher, whose students were granted the scholarship, said. “Though our school is located within 30 minutes, several students were coming to Grandfather Mountain for the first time.”

Students test a hand-held anemometer during a field trip at Grandfather Mountain. Anemometers measure wind speed, one of many subjects offered through the park’s educational programming. Photo courtesy of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation

About the Scholarship

The scholarship was established in spring 2015 in honor of the late Nathan Pribble, a teenager who loved the great outdoors.

But to Pribble, that term was something of an understatement. To him, it meant connecting with nature. He and his family — parents William and Robin, sister Kit and brother Carson — shared this connection at Grandfather Mountain, traveling frequently from their home in Apex, N.C., to the nonprofit nature park.

When Pribble died unexpectedly in October 2014 at the age of 18, his parents decided to honor his memory by sharing their son’s passion for nature with others.

“Nathan was a nature lover all his life, so it was only natural that we asked for memorials to go somewhere that would mean something to Nathan,” Robin Pribble said.

His family requested that memorial contributions be made to the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, the nonprofit organization that owns and operates the park, to help provide field trips for schools that could not afford them.

“Helping students that otherwise might not have an opportunity to go to Grandfather Mountain is something that would matter to him,” Robin said. 

In addition to individual contributions made in Pribble’s memory, the fund has support from Holbrook Field Trips, Duke Energy, Wells Fargo and Sky Best Communications. The mountain welcomed its first scholarship recipients in October 2015 — Cheryl Bauer’s third grade class from Valmead Elementary School in Lenoir, N.C.

Following the field trip, Bauer said she could now return to the classroom and make a different kind of connection — the kind that Pribble loved to share.

For Robin Pribble, it was a joy to see her son’s legacy have such a meaningful impact.

“For these students, having the opportunity to spend a day outside of the classroom and in the fresh air was life-changing,” she said. “I believe the students and chaperones left the mountain that day with more knowledge and love of nature than when they arrived that morning. It was a beautiful thing to see.”

A student meets one of Grandfather Mountain’s smaller residents — a Yonahlossee salamander — during a field trip to the Linville, N.C., nature park. Photo courtesy of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation

How to Apply

Scholarships are offered for spring and fall field trips, and amounts are based on the stated need and number of students. Recipients may use the funding for all direct expenses related to the trip, including travel, admission and meals.

Scholarships are primarily offered to North Carolina public schools, although other organizations with students may apply.

Preference is given to:

  • North Carolina schools (pre-K through 12th grade)
  • Title 1 schools or those with demonstrated financial need
  • Applicants studying a specific content area or curriculum that would benefit from field-based study at Grandfather Mountain

Application deadlines are Dec. 1 for spring field trips and June 1 for fall field trips. To apply, download an application form at, fill it out completely, including an estimated budget for the trip, and return it to

The not-for-profit Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation strives to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain. For more information, call 800-468-7325, or visit to plan a trip.

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