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Wildlife center focuses on critters in your backyard

The Centennial Campus Center for Wildlife Education explores the creatures of the North Carolina Piedmont.

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Sarah Lindenfeld Hall
If you feel like you're entering an office complex when you head over to the Centennial Campus Center for Wildlife Education, it's because you are.

Tucked away among the offices and labs of N.C. State's Centennial Campus, the center is one of the state's four wildlife education centers. It's located in the headquarters of the state's Wildlife Resources Commission. And it doesn't seem like the most obvious place to learn about the creatures that live in the fields, streams and woodlands of the North Carolina Piedmont.

But you'll find a really hands-on experience complete with exhibits indoors and outdoors. The focus outdoors is how to attract wildlife to your own backyard. Indoors, kids will enjoy the interactive exhibits, which rely heavily on technology, to tell the story and describe the lives of the creatures among us.

Three floor-to-ceiling murals replicate life in the area with pictures and sound. Touch screens allow kids to learn about all the different species that live in each county of the state, hear what they sound like and learn more about how they live.

Homeschoolers and school groups are frequent visitors here. Families stop by too. But Marti Kane, the director, tells me she'd like to see more families at the center. Kane recently launched the new Wildlife Explorers Program where kids can find the answers to a series of questions among the exhibits. When the booklet is complete, kids can take home a patch and goody bag, along with a T-shirt (while supplies last and for individuals only, not large groups).

The center offers a variety of free programs for kids from age 3 to 15, along with workshops and programs for adults. Registration, which is required, has just started for classes from September to January. Click here for details.
Center educators also offer training programs for teachers, caregivers, parents and anybody else interested in teaching kids more about wildlife and the environment. Educators are using activities and resources from the Council for Environmental Education's popular Project WILD program.

The Centennial Center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. It's closed on state holidays. Admission is free. And it is open occasionally on weekends, including Saturday, Sept. 25, from noon to 5 p.m. for the Wildlife Expo, which Kane tells me is geared toward kids.

Watch the video to take a quick look at the center and hear more from Kane.


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