Adirondack Museums Recieve $4.8M Gift

Two Adirondack institutions, devoted to telling the stories of the natural and human history that have formed their remarkable corner of the world, recently received gifts that will enable both to continue their missions for many years to come. The Wild Center/Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks and the Adirondack Museum have announced that they will each receive $2.4 million in the form of bequests from the late Linda K. Vaughan, a long-time seasonal resident of Long Lake as well as member and donor of both museums.

Dr. Vaughan’s love of the Adirondacks and its wilderness developed at a young age when she was a canoeing guide at Silver Lake Camp girl’s camp in the late 50s. The Adirondacks became her favorite place to relax and she returned every year where she became a quiet but consistent supporter of both the Adirondack Museum and The Wild Center.

“Dr. Vaughan’s bequest is a magnificent surprise and the single largest gift that The Wild Center has received from an individual,” said Stephanie Ratcliffe, Executive Director of The Wild Center. “Bequests are a wonderful way to leave a legacy to an organization that the donor believes in, often times allowing for a gift larger than possible during the donor’s lifetime. This is truly a transformative gift that allows both of our museums to plan for the future and assist each of us in continuing to preserve and interpret the significant natural and human histories of the Adirondacks.”

&#8220The gift from Linda Vaughan’s estate came as a wonderful surprise to all of us here at the Adirondack Museum,” said David M. Kahn, Executive Director of the Adirondack Museum. “The years she spent at Silver Lake Camp as a girl inspired Ms. Vaughan’s love for the area. We are truly humbled by her overwhelmingly generous bequest which will allow the museum to continue to preserve the history of a place that was so special to her, and share it with so many others.&#8221 Ms. Vaughan’s bequest to the Adirondack Museum was in honor of Caroline M. Welsh, who served the Adirondack Museum for over two decades, first as a Curator and then as Director.

Originally from Wellesley, Massachusetts, Dr. Vaughan was Professor Emerita of the Department of Physical Education and Athletics at Wellesley College, and was Chair/Athletic Director of the Department from 1973 to 1990. She continued teaching until her retirement in 2000.

Dr. Vaughan graduated from Hathaway Brown School for Girls, in Shaker Heights, Ohio, where she was referred to as “blue-eyed perpetual motion.” Linda then went on to obtain B.S. and M.A. degrees from Russell Sage College, where she received the Aldrich Award for Proficiency in Sports.

After receiving her Master’s Degree in 1962, she went to Wellesley College as an instructor of Physical Education. She received her Ph.D. in Physical Education from Ohio State University. Dr. Vaughan then served as Professor and Director of the Master’s Thesis Program in Physical Education at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts for several years.

Dr. Vaughan returned to Wellesley College in 1973, as Chair/Athletic Director of the Department of Physical Education, Recreation and Athletics. As Chair, she remolded the Wellesley intercollegiate athletics from its club status infancy into a strong and viable program, hiring the first assistant athletic directors, athletic trainers, specialized coaches, and assistant coaches.

Noted for research in the field of sports psychology, Dr. Vaughan authored many papers in the field. Of particular importance was her sabbatical research in women’s exercise physiology done at the Army Research Institute for Environmental Medicine in Natick, Massachusetts. At the time women were just being admitted into the Army as regular soldiers. The studies were important in demonstrating that not only were women able to undergo the same demanding physical training as men but that they didn’t quit when pushed. Dr. Vaughan also authored a book titled Canoeing and Sailing in 1970.

Dr. Vaughan passed away in 2009.

Photo: (l-r) David Kahn, Executive Director of the Adirondack Museum- Caroline Welsh, Director Emeriti and Senior Art Historian at the Adirondack Museum- Kevin Arquit, Chairman of the Adirondack Museum Board- Rebecca Foley, Executrix of Vaughan Estate- Hilary McDonald, Vice Chair of the Adirondack Museum Board- Lynn Birdsong, President of The Wild Center Board- Stephanie Ratcliffe, Executive Director of The Wild Center.

Wild Center Wins Staff Development Grants

The Wild Center in Tupper Lake is has received two grants that will aid in the professional development of three staff members.

Assistant Curator, Leah Filo and Animal Care Specialist, Stephanie Hample, were awarded $750 from Museumwise for a “Go!” grant to participate in a specialized animal training program with world-renowned “Natural Encounters, Inc.”. During the training they will work with over 50 different bird and animal species, increasing their knowledge and skills for animal care and the always popular, Animal Encounters.

The Go grants are one of a series of grants offered to help museums and historical societies strengthen and develop their institutions and work with their communities. These grants, from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency, and administered by Museumwise, are designed to make it easy for organizations to access professional help and improve their institutions. To learn more about these grant programs, eligibility requirements and deadlines, visit

Store Manager, Josh Pratt, received a $700 Sam Greenberg scholarship from the Museum Store Association to attend the MSA Retail Conference and Expo to learn more about the trade and strengthen skills.

Samuel Julius Greenberg was director of museum shops for the Smithsonian Institution from 1982 – 89. He felt that the MSA Retail Conference & Expo was one of the best learning opportunities for museum store managers.

In his memory, MSA founded the Sam Greenberg Scholarship Fund to provide assistance to museum store personnel who have never had an opportunity to attend the annual MSA Conference. Since the scholarship fund began in 1991, more than 100 members have received awards.

Wild Center Museum Puts Money Where Its Mouth Is

The Wild Center, the innovative natural history museum in the Adirondacks, demonstrated its commitment again to sustainable practices by making components of the building part of the exhibition. A new heating and hot water systems, fueled by renewable resources and part of the ‘New Path’ exhibition, will explore and test the technology that decreases our dependence on fossil fuels. First announced in July 2009, the highly efficient wood pellet boiler is integrated with a solar hot water system that will supply much of the hot water required to heat the 54,000-square-foot facility in Tupper Lake.

The new boiler system is the first highly efficient, commercial-sized, gasification wood-pellet boiler of its kind and size manufactured and installed in New York State. Additionally, the solar hot water collection system is the first of its kind used in a commercial application in the Adirondack region. The project just won the Best Building Integrated/Innovative category in the 6KC Awards, recognizing the best and brightest solar projects and industry champions in the Empire State, by the New York Solar Energy Industries Association (NYSEIA).

The project is supported by a $350,000 contract award by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) in response to a competitive solicitation, “Energy and Environmental Performance of High-Efficiency Wood-fired Heating Equipment.” Francis J. Murray, Jr., NYSERDA President and CEO, noted NYSERDA’s interest in this demonstration installation: “We commend The Wild Center for its commitment to incorporating renewable energy into its operations. Their use of pioneering made-in-New York technology will help promote high-efficiency, renewable-fuel boilers that reduce harmful emissions, burn local fuel, and further New York’s efforts to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, while helping to build New York’s clean energy economy. We look forward to the installation’s benefits, savings and economic efficiency,” he said.

A key component of the project is that Clarkson University will conduct a rigorous scientific evaluation of the energy-efficiency and emissions performance of the boiler as well as the integrated heating system and report its findings to NYSERDA. It is anticipated that this evaluation will provide objective scientific information to be used by decision makers developing renewable energy strategies. It will also serve as a model for others looking to evaluate ways to heat with renewable fuels in an efficient manner.

“We are eager to see the results of Clarkson’s evaluation,” said Stephanie Ratcliffe, Executive Director of The Wild Center. “We know that since the system has been online our propane consumption has decreased, but we’re very interested to see how much of our heating and hot water needs will be met by this system. Positive results could prove to be immensely beneficial for the Adirondacks, New York State and the country, encouraging others to implement similar technology.”

In New York State, renewable energy for heating is gaining increased interest as it addresses the goals of reducing fuel costs, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, stimulating local economic development and reducing dependence on foreign sources by replacing imported fossil fuels with locally available renewable fuels. In the Adirondacks, the most abundant and inexpensive renewable fuel is wood. However, traditional wood burning stoves, some common commercial wood boilers and, more recently, outdoor wood boilers suffer from low efficiency and high levels of pollution from incomplete combustion. The planned project offers a very clean-burning, highly efficient alternative use of wood fuel.

The Wild Center is the first museum in New York to receive a LEED certification, with a Silver distinction, from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). The LEED standard is considered to be the international benchmark for green building. In selecting The Wild Center as the site for this project, backers pointed to the Center’s position as a leader in sustainable operational practices.

The successful installation and usage of the boiler system has the potential for a positive economic impact on the Adirondacks. By harvesting the “waste” in logging and sawmill operations to create wood pellets and then selling that back to local institutions the money that is currently sent abroad for the purchase of fossil fuels is kept in the Adirondacks where it can potentially lead to job creation.

The 1.7 million BTU boiler unit is in The Wild Center’s basement boiler room, next to the Museum’s existing propane boiler. The pellets are stored in an outdoor recycled shipping container next to the Administration wing of the Museum. The storage vessel also supports the solar thermal array to preheat water for the system. Pellets are augured through a series of pipes into the basement and directly into the boiler. Hot water from the solar thermal array is piped into the boiler through underground pipes.

The Wild Center’s high rate of visitation means the new project will be explained to a large audience that will be able to see the heating technology up close. Visitors will be able to see the pellets on their journey from the storage vessel to the boiler. The interpretation of the system will be added to the Museum’s ‘New Path’ Exhibit, which showcases elements of green design and how these features benefit the health of the human and natural world.

The wood gasification boiler was fabricated by Advanced Climate Technologies of Schenectady, NY. The solar thermal heating system was designed and installed by E2G Solar and APEX Thermal Services. Similar projects, supported by NYSERDA, are taking place within the Saranac Lake Central School District and North Country School.

Adirondack Wild Center Museum Launches Wings Group

When a group of young Adirondack enthusiasts first met in 2009 they never imagined the energy and passion they brought would grow so quickly, drawing in other like-minded people to form Wings. Wings recently launched, bringing together the next generation of Adirondackers who want to share their passion for the natural world of the Adirondacks, while supporting the important educational and environmental work of The Wild Center.

According to the Adirondack Park Regional Assessment Project Report, if current population trends continue in the next 20 years, the Adirondacks will rival Florida’s west coast as the region with the oldest population in America. It is time for the younger generation to actively participate in the future of the Adirondacks. Wings will encourage and engage this exciting group of 21-45 year olds who live in and outside of the Adirondacks in social, educational and philanthropic ways. They will come together for regular gatherings where they can network, develop a greater understanding for the natural world of the Adirondacks and support the programs and initiatives of The Wild Center.

Wings will play an active role in the future of The Wild Center. “It is so important to incorporate various perspectives into the future of The Wild Center,” said Stephanie Ratcliffe, Executive Director of The Wild Center. “Wings is a way of actively engaging the younger population both inside and outside of the Adirondacks in the future of the region. Creating future stewards of the Adirondacks is integral to the survival of the area.”

Ed Forbes and David Bickford, Co-Chairs of the Steering Committee, will serve as Wings representatives to the Advisory Board of The Wild Center. A former resident of Lake Placid, Ed graduated from St. Lawrence University in 2002 and joined the staff of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise as a reporter covering Saranac Lake and the Adirondack Park Agency. In 2003, he became the editor of the Lake Placid News. He left the News in 2007 to pursue a Master’s degree at the Columbia University Graduate School. In 2008, he became an editor at The Journal News in White Plains. He and his wife, Emily Hunt Forbes, live in Bronxville and visit the North Country as often as they can. &#8220Emily and I think about and miss the North Country every day,” said Ed. “While I grew up in northern New Jersey and she was raised in Buffalo, we consider the Adirondacks our home. Wings, to us, offers a range of opportunities: We can connect inside the Blue Line and out with other expatriates who share our love for the region, we can learn more about the Adirondacks’ natural wonders and we can support the critical mission of The Wild Center.&#8221

Dave currently lives in New York City with his wife and six-month old daughter. A 2000 graduate from St. Lawrence University, over five generations of his family have been going to Upper Saranac Lake since the 1940s. He currently works in ad sales at CNBC.

Joining Wings provides numerous opportunities for attending Wings events in various locations and visiting The Wild Center. Wings participants will see their contribution make an impact at the Museum in the form of a collective annual gift toward a specific program or exhibit.

Using an email mailing to announce the launch of Wings demonstrates how the group will continue to communicate and spread the word. “The way of the world has shifted dramatically towards internet-based communication and social networking,” said Dave Bickford. “If we can use it to harness the energy of our supporters, while using fewer resources and funds, it won’t matter where someone is in the world. If they love the Adirondacks and want to be involved, they can. We plan to use our Facebook fan page to keep in frequent communication with everyone. Our social events will be both inside and outside of the Adirondacks, enabling everyone to meet in person too.”

The Wings Steering Committee is actively seeking like-minded supporters, people who want to get together with others who share a love for the Adirondacks, be future stewards of the Adirondacks, and get involved in Wings. For more information, visit