Take a Walk on the Wild Side- North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Wildlife Education Center

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission moved into their new building this past September. The 5-story structure on the University of North Carolina campus in Raleigh brings together previously scattered Commission departments. Amid the usual offices and administrative areas is a highly technical Wildlife Education Center with the ability to broadcast classes statewide.

On two levels, the Wildlife Education Center includes: an auditorium, a classroom, laboratories, exhibits, a small studio, and a control room. The classes and workshops are open to everyone and are, in most cases, free of charge. Varying workshops will include: wildlife photography, canoeing, fishing, fly-tying, map-and-compass, outdoor cooking, and hunting.

Some of the conservation education programs feature the building itself. Selected as a pilot project in the State’s High Performance Buildings Program, the Wildlife Commission’s new building has received national recognition for incorporating sustainable building features that incorporate reusable and renewable resources, provide natural lighting, complement the natural characteristics of the site, cause minimal environmental impacts, and use energy efficiently.

Thorburn Associates provided the design for audiovisual technology needed for the Education Center and the Boardroom. The Boardroom is designed as a presentation facility; enabled with video, DVD playback, PowerPoint, and projection. The classroom enables a local instructor to engage a live audience while simultaneously reaching schools around the entire state of North Carolina. The instructor can control these long distance learning applications from the lectern or an operator can control the feeds from the adjacent studio.

The studio contains a lectern, plasma screen, camera, and blue screen (to allow superimposing the instructor’s image over another image—similar to a television weatherperson’s image superimposed over the satellite weather map). The combined/superimposed image can then be broadcast statewide.

The control room coordinates all aspects of the distance learning program as well as a remote feed fiber optic connectivity to sites on the surrounding grounds, such as the proposed pond and other natural sites. Educational shows with live animals and the ability to interact and ask questions of the instructor will dynamically teach children and spark their curiosity.

The auditorium serves as a larger presentation room as well as the ability to show a timed, high definition movie as introduction to the Center. The auditorium is also equipped with long-distance learning capabilities.

The new Wildlife Resources Commission building facilitates a more efficient means of doing business by creating one place to house various departments. The Education Center, when fully operational this summer, will educate across the state the wonders of North Carolina wildlife in a highly technological approach.