Don Mallicoat

Pisgah Education Center awarded

By Don Mallicoat –

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education, located alongside the Davidson River in Transylvania County, has been recognized for excellence in environmental education. The Environmental Educators of North Carolina named the wildlife education center as its 2012 Exceptional Environmental Education Program. The award was presented in October as a part of an annual conference in Washington, N.C.

The award recognizes a program, education center or organization that exemplifies excellence in environmental education. The recipient must reach beyond the “usual scope and scale” to create a sustainable commitment to environmental education, a more environmentally literate public, a stronger profession for environmental educators and otherwise support the mission and objectives of the Environmental Educators of North Carolina (EENC).

“The Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education is an ideal example of what an Exceptional Environmental Education Program can be,” said Keith Bamberger, EENC board member. “It is a bridge between traditional hunting and fishing, environmental management for the common good, and education using the outdoors as a classroom. Their scope and scale reach tourists through the center, teachers through workshops, and into the classroom with direct programming.”

One of four educational centers operated by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education offers free admission to exhibits that highlight mountain habitats, with live fish, frogs, salamanders and snakes on display. There are daily showings of an award-winning documentary, along with regularly scheduled events, clinics and activities. Outside, there are nature trails and the Bobby N. Setzer State Fish Hatchery, where visitors can feed trout that grow in54 hatchery raceways.

“I could not be more pleased to give the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education the 2012 Exceptional Environmental Education Program award,” Bamberger said. The Environmental Educators of North Carolina is a statewide, membership-driven 501(c) 3 education non-profit organization. Created in 1987, the group works to connect diverse professionals and organizations to each other and to high quality environmental education materials and programs, demonstrating leadership.

“I think the Pisgah Center stood out because we have about 13,000 program participants a year, more than a 100,000 visitors every year and we are free,” said Melinda Patterson, center director. “A great way to help sustain conservation is to learn more about North Carolina’s wildlife and habitats. And that’s as easy as visiting an education center like ours, or signing up for classes or workshops or checking out our videos and publications.”

Education is a key component of the Wildlife Commission, which provides programs and workshops to enhance enjoyment and appreciation of North Carolina’s resources.

“Our centers cover so many topics, from wildlife photography to fly tying, to wildlife identification,” said Margaret Martin, the Commission’s field outreach manager. “Centers offer seasonal hunting and fishing clinics for novice sportsmen and women, host school and church groups on a daily basis and provide families a fun, learning destination. There is practically something for everyone.” If you have ever visited the Pisgah Center and participated in one of their programs you will agree that this is well deserved recognition.

I went grouse hunting the first time this season. I’m getting old. I loaded up Ben and headed to the Pisgah National Forest near Hot Springs. Riding down the road I saw a 4 – 5 year old timber cut (rare in itself in our National Forest). That’s a little young for grouse but I decided to hunt the edges hoping to get something up. I’m getting old because after hunting only two hours I was huffing and puffing and starting to sweat.

Grouse hunting in our mountains is not for the weak of heart. I’ve taken “flatlanders” on half day hunts and they had about all they could handle. Maybe I’m not so much getting old as out of shape. All I know is that after two hours I’d had about all I could handle. Oh yeah, I did get into some thick cover choked with laurel, regeneration, multi-floral rose and greenbrier. Just what grouse like. No grouse flushed or in the bag. All I have to show for my effort is briar scratches on my hands. Oh well, the season is young.

Speaking of young seasons, we transitioned from deer archery to gun season this past Monday. Also all small game seasons are now open. Rabbit and quail opened November 17th. There is a one week dove season this week, Nov 19 – 24. The last split of dove season is December 15 – January 11. The middle duck split is also open until December 1, then the long duck season starts December 15 through January 26. So now is a great time to hunt and a lot to hunt out there!

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