Regional Nature Museums
For 10 wonderful weeks each summer, the Regional Nature Museums in Harriman State Park welcome youth from urban New York and New Jersey to provide children with recreation, education, and connection to the natural landscape.
To develop stewardship and educate campers and visitors about the history and natural history of Harriman State Park
The prime responsibility for each Regional Nature Museum rests with its two staff members. Staff at Tiorati, Twin Lakes, Kanawauke and Stahahe are trained as Environmental Educators and Scientists, and mentored by the Coordinator of the Regional Nature Museums. They work in pairs as co-directors of one of the museums.
They learn to create museum exhibits based on their collections of living and non-living things, including live fish, reptiles, and amphibians. They receive training in outdoor education and program development and presentation.
They learn to cultivate skills in welcoming urban children into the natural world and nurture them through hands-on, active learning and dialogue in order to build children’s awareness and engagement in understanding and stewarding the environment.
By season’s end they will have served thousands of city and suburban children and adults; most from non-profit organizations including those for developmentally disabled adults, families, the very young, and those without permanent residence.
The Regional Nature Museums of Harriman State Park were founded in 1919. The Palisades Interstate Park Commission and the American Museum of Natural History partnered to originate and develop outdoor education as a new and much needed pedagogy for urban children particularly of low-resource families.
The original nature museum was located on the shores of Lake Kanawauke and served the nearby Boy Scout Camp. In subsequent years, additional Nature Museums were built and staffed. The small Nature Museums are built of native stone among the granite outcroppings of the Hudson Highlands With large windows and doors opened wide each day, the Nature Museums are embedded in the woodland landscape.
Nature Museums Endowment
Trailside seeks protect and sustain the Nature Museums with a dedicated endowment to support staffing now and for the century ahead.
The endowment will ensure that the Nature Museums are able to deliver on their mission of educating children of each generation for the stewardship of the environment and training and developing outdoor nature educators.