Kids stuff: The perks of native wildlife education

Jordan Rutherford; photo courtesy of the WNC Nature Center

Editor’s note: The following Q&A is part of Xpress‘ annual Kids Issues. 

Jordan Rutherford, the guest services coordinator at the WNC Nature Center, shares his thoughts on the benefits of outdoor education and the center’s most popular exhibits for kids.

What role does the WNC Nature Center play in educating local kids?

The WNC Nature Center is home to over 60 species of native or once-native species, including wolves, otters and red pandas. We have free public programs that give children a more in-depth look at some of our native wildlife. We also host school groups for field trips as well as a summer camp for rising first through rising fourth graders.

How can parents best encourage their kids to be curious about wildlife?

The best way to encourage curiosity about wildlife is to expose children to the outdoors. Visiting places like the WNC Nature Center gives children a more personal connection to wildlife versus what they see on TV or YouTube. Going on hikes in the woods and spotting wildlife or signs of wildlife (tracks, nests, scat) is another great way to encourage children to learn more about wildlife and the environment.

What exhibit at the center is the biggest hit with kids?

Most children love visiting Brandon’s Otter Falls. Watching our two otters, Olive and Obi-wan, swim around is a highlight for many families as well as the otter slide for children to slide down right next to the otters. The second most popular exhibit would be Appalachian Station. It’s home to our hellbender; hellbenders are the biggest salamander species on the continent, and children love to look under the tank to see it.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.