At the forefront of every experience is connection. With a mission-driven goal to cultivate a love for the region and connect both residents and visitors to the land, TILT is working to provide a transformative asset to our community through the creation of the TILT Discovery Center: The Gateway to the Outdoors.
The Center will act as a hub where visitors and locals alike can learn about regional outdoor resources, a need that currently is not met. And with our organization embarking on a complete building renovation afforded through private donations, there is no better time to provide an interactive experience like no other in the Thousand Islands.
“TILT’s life blood is its membership, and the Discovery Center will be key to our future by actively welcoming and engaging all who pass by. In this 3-D walk-in, hands-on, immersing, sensory experience, people will see TILT’s critical role in conserving the unparalleled values of the Thousand Islands and the great River that runs through it. There is nothing that will better deliver the magical message of Alice the Moose, the islands and the region’s many furred and feathered travelers to people of all ages. And what more ideal location than the corner of John Street and the River, accessible to everyone?” said Cindy Bower, TILT Trustee.
The Discovery Center will serve as interpretive and educational space that will communicate the value of the land we protect, and the local recreational opportunities and access to open space that the region offers. We envision visitors leaving the Center instilled with appreciation and knowledge of the region’s unique ecosystem, natural resources, and cultural history. Visitors will be ready to explore the region’s public lands and help support this vital community. The main goal of the experience is to inspire people to get outside and connect with nature.
“It is critically important that land trust organizations, such as TILT work to preserve, protect and manage highly functioning habitat to support fish and wildlife populations and reverse local biodiversity loss,” said John M. Farrell, Ph.D., Professor and Director Thousand Islands Biological Station at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and TILT Trustee. “TILT’s efforts to expand its role in local and regional environmental conservation with the creation of the TILT Discovery Center represent a positive step towards that goal,”
Interactive exhibits for both children and adults will encourage hands-on experiences that allow people to explore and learn. One exhibit will focus on the Algonquin to Adirondacks (A2A) corridor, and the important work TILT and local partners are doing to protect this climate-resilient landscape. Incorporated within other exhibits will be touchscreen kiosks and other technology that will connect people to our preserves, provide real-time project information, celebrate TILT’s history, share videos and stories and engage all ages in environmental education. Open year-round and on the newly constructed Clayton Riverwalk, the Discovery Center will engage all who visit.
The Discovery Center will also function as a convening space for TILTreks, our program series that gets people out on the land. It will also be used for presentations like TILT’s Birkhead Lecture.
“As a community member, I have had the opportunity to attend several of TILT’s Treks with my family. We have benefitted from these programs and expanded our knowledge of the natural world together,” said Kelly Picunas, Guardino Elementary Fifth Grade Teacher. “The creation of the TILT Discovery Center will fill a need in our community that is not met and provide a tool that educators like me can utilize through field trips to engage students with the St. Lawrence River ecosystems, the benefits TILT provides and the threats we face together,” “Our goal is to develop a common space where the community comes alive with a sense of belonging. Together with community members and our conservation partners, we aim to create a strong public place where people are empowered to take ownership of their local environment and immerse themselves in a sense of community that is inspiring,” said Terra Bach, Director of Development and Communications.
The creation of the TILT Discovery Center is made possible by the generous support of the Ferguson Foundation, Fresh Sound Foundation, Northern New York Community Foundation, Sweetgrass Foundation, Watertown Savings Bank, SLRREF, the TILT Board of Trustees, and private donations.
With the looming threat of climate change, the ever-growing importance of protecting our water resources, and the widening disconnect between children and nature, mission awareness and environmental education initiatives like the creation of the TILT Discovery Center are more important now than ever before. With the TILT Discovery Center: The Gateway to the Outdoors, the organization will be able to connect more people to the land and River, encouraging a deeper understanding of the health of our planet, its important water resources, and the future stewardship of this earth.