About three weeks ago, the Gateway Visitors Center opened in Manteo, NC. This new “green” facility (notice the solar panels on the roofs) serves as the ‘gateway’ to eleven National Wildlife Refuges in the coastal North Carolina and southeastern Virginia area.
And what a spectacular visitors center it is! You can take a virtual flight in an airplane to view aerial tours of each refuge, visit a red wolf den, learn about prescribed burns, visually see the effects of hurricanes on the Outer Banks, and enjoy four different videos including one of the town of Buffalo City before Alligator River NWR came into existence. Buffalo City was a most interesting place with a lively history during prohibition.
I was here today to learn the ropes of running this place. I’ll be on my own for a full day on Sunday. Each visitors center I’ve worked at has their own special way of doing things, and the kinks are still being worked out of this one. Abbey’s in charge, and she’s done a great job of making all the volunteers feel comfortable working here. If you look closely above at the pic on the right, perhaps you can see two bears and a wild turkey.
My favorite display for visitors is the area depicting the inland forest area of several of the refuges. There are 37 critters that can be found if you have the desire and patience to seek them out. I’ve only shown the blatantly obvious ones here. It’s not easy to find all of them, and once I tell visitors about the challenge, they usually take up the gauntlet to find them all. Young and old alike walk the length of the large display pointing, counting on their fingers, and getting excited about their discoveries. Now that’s what I’m here for. We may not have any roses to smell, but folks willingly take the time to look slowly and closely at this moist woodland habitat. Perhaps when they visit the refuges, they will take the time to appreciate all that is before them.
The real highlight of this training day for me was to meet Suzanne Tate. She is the author of all of the children’s books you see on the right of the photo. These books are delightful, and five years ago I sent several of them to all of my grandchildren. “Tammy Turtle” has turned out to be a favorite of grandgirls Avery and Phoebe in Indiana. It’s the tale of how the Pea Island NWR refuge, its staff, and volunteers help by trying to save the endangered sea turtles.
Suzanne is a delightful woman, and I wished that I had been able to spend more time with her. She lives on the Outer Banks, and her love of the shores and its inhabitants is obvious in her books. “Tammy Turtle” is one of her best selling books. I can understand that. I hope I’m here when she stops in again so I can get her to autograph the books I’ll be picking out this time to send the grands.
Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later, Judy