While looking at the sphere, Ratcliffe and I met 12-year-old junior-volunteer Matthew Whitmore.
“My mom works at the desk, and somebody said I could be a junior volunteer and have a job here,” Whitmore said. “I wanted to do it.”
At the center, exhibits showing a variety of Adirondack habitats are labeled in a way that is designed to be thought-provoking.
“When you go out into the natural world, you might see it differently,” Ratcliffe said. “There are small and big stories that we want you to understand.”
For example, she said, the next time you find yourself hiking near a river, you might consider how “the ‘babbling brook’ part of a river is highly oxygenated and is probably a good place to look for fish.”
As for fish, they are there in abundance at the Wild Center’s aquaria, including a massive pike, a prehistoric-looking sturgeon and brook trout with their spotted bodies and red bellies.
The river otters are a highlight of the Wild Center. Their exhibit, which includes a small waterfall, is beautifully designed so that you can see the otters underwater. Watch an otter swim underwater, and you will be amazed by its sleek and streamlined design and by the speed and grace of its movements.
I had lunch at the center’s café, and then, in the comfortable, big-screen theater, I enjoyed a screening of “Flight of the Butterflies,” the featured film for the next year. The film tells the story of the migration of the monarch butterfly — and how the secrets of that migration began to be uncovered.
After the movie, I spoke with naturalist Kerri Ziemann about the Wild Center’s canoeing program. She said that it is a great way to get visitors, including families, to enjoy the outdoors at the center.