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COROLLA, N.C. (June 2) - Many of the artifacts, antiques and heirlooms on display at the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education were provided by the community, through donations and long-term loans.

A 10:30 a.m. ribbon cutting ceremony on June 16 will unveil the "Life by Water's Rhythms" exhibit hall that holds these treasures, marking the latest phase of an ongoing conservation education mission by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.

Those contributions, whether by groups or individuals, provide a vital piece of the interpretive message about northeastern North Carolina.

"This is a piece of history that might never have been told," said Wilson Snowden, a Currituck native who, along with his wife (and local historian) Barbara, was instrumental in collecting many of the objects included in the exhibits. "A lot of this goes back to another time and a way of life that is disappearing," he said.

The Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education is ideally located to capture the historic aspects of Currituck Sound. It is situated between the Currituck Beach Lighthouse, an 1875 beacon still in operation, and the Whalehead Club, a well-known hunting lodge built in the 1920s.

Beginning around the Civil War, private hunting clubs were established here to take advantage of the great waterfowl hunting and fishing nearby, and became an indelible part of local culture.

"Hunting clubs were an important part of life," said Travis Morris, a lifelong resident of Coinjock who gave photos and hunting accessories to the center. "The hunting clubs would employ locals to be guides, to take care of things. And it was more than just a job. You got to meet people you otherwise would never have met. It was just an enjoyable experience.
"The area has changed so much now," he said. "Growing up, you farmed, hunted and fished, or got out!"

Two organizations, the Whalehead Preservation Trust and the Currituck Wildlife Guild, have proven instrumental to the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education Center. Not only have the two groups provided items for display, their membership continues to be a reliable source of knowledge about Currituck Sound.

Another example of community involvement came when the local library reserved space for a N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission staff member to set up shop one summer and scan photographs brought in by locals. Those images are reproduced throughout the exhibit.

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has three regional education centers across the state, including the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education near Brevard and the Centennial Campus Center for Wildlife Education in Raleigh on the Centennial Campus of N.C. State University.
 
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