The Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education in Pisgah National Forest is free and open year round, and offers indoor and outdoor educational exhibits that focus on the natural world of a mountain cove forest.
At the center, the natural history of the mountains and how the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission works to conserve wildlife diversity is illustrated in an award-winning film. The center also includes an exhibit hall, allowing visitors a close-up view of a variety of mountain wildlife species, including fish, reptiles and amphibians.
Adjacent to the center is the Bobby N. Setzer State Fish Hatchery. Dropping a coin in the fish food dispensers at the hatchery provides excitement for children of all ages and the thousands of trout in the state’s most well-known hatchery. At the hatchery, visitors may watch and feed the brook, brown and rainbow trout that are raised and then placed in local hatchery-supported streams and rivers.
The center is also a great starting point for several hiking trails, including a trip up John Rock, which has fantastic views. To get to the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education and the hatchery, travel five miles from the national forest’s entrance in Brevard and then take a left on FS 475 for 1.5 miles.
The center is open from 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., Monday to Saturday. For more information, call (828) 877-4423 or go to www.ncwildlife.org.
NUTS ABOUT NATURE
Throughout the summer, the Pisgah Wildlife Education Center provides free programs on a wide variety of subjects, including fly-fishing, hiking, nature photography and general wildlife education.
One group of programs is called Nature Nuts, which is offered to 4-7 year olds, according to Lee Sherrill, the center’s program coordinator. “We have a program for just about every wildlife critter found in this part of North Carolina,” Sherrill said.
A typical Nature Nuts program lasts around two hours. “The format we use includes a talk, story book, craft and outdoor activity,” Sherrill said. All the classes are lead by a center education specialist, such as Patrick Weaver.
PCWE OUTDOOR EDUCATOR: PATRICK WEAVER
“Having a father who started taking me backpacking at the age of 10 sealed the deal,” Weaver said. “Growing up I enjoyed fly fishing, hunting and camping, which was pretty much a family pastime.”
Weaver graduated from Indiana University at South Bend with a Bachelor of Science degree in education and began teaching biology, earth science, physical science, physics and other subjects. After moving to North Carolina, he earned a master’s degree in risk management in adventure education.
“About this time two great things happened: my wife and I had two wonderful children, and I moved out of the classroom and began teaching rock climbing, kayaking and fly fishing,” Weaver said. “I started the fly fishing program at the Asheville School and after working there seven years, began guiding on my own.
“Eventually I was fortunate enough to receive a position at the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education as an outdoor educator. After 35 years of fly fishing, working at the center is a great match. I have been able to add to the great fly fishing program by creating some advanced classes for anglers. The center’s programs have branched out to include selecting a fly, tackle and techniques for fly fishing and reading the water.
“At the center, I am lucky enough to teach outdoor skills, work with great people and meet a lot of awesome people who care about the outdoors.”