What’s New at the Schrader Center?

With the changing of the seasons and the arrival of cooler weather, Oglebay Institute’s Schrader Environmental Education Center also changes its colors and adapts to the coming winter season. While some of the outdoor activities give way to indoor learning, the Schrader Center continues to offer new activities and programming, both inside and out, for visitors.

Take a Winter Hike

Of course, the trails remain open year-round. And while a winter hike may not sound as appealing as a summer stroll, winter offers a stark contrast in the forest. The weeds die back and the ticks retreat. The ground seems to change shape and naked branches make it easier to spot a woodpecker or raptor. A snowy hike offers an alien perspective; snow hushes the world and even the trees seem to hold their breath.

Indoor Activities & Quiet Time

If hiking seems a little too “out there,” the Schrader Center will be open daily and is free to the public. In addition to the Samara Shop, where visitors can find local crafts, edibles, and books, you’ll find a variety of things to entertain yourself in a cozy setting. Caregivers can no doubt appreciate that the Schrader Center is also a great place to bring children on long, chilly days or rainy weekends for indoor free-play.

In the exhibition room, the Schrader Center offers several new interactive stations, including a cloud exhibit; a what-is-your-wingspan exhibit where kids can measure the length of their arms and compare them raptors’ wings; an expanded puppet area; and upgraded animal habitats for friends like Betsey the toad, Frank the Midland Painted Turtle, and Taylor the Corn Snake, among others. All amphibians and reptiles that live at Schrader have a name and an information card so visitors can get to know them.

Kids Love the “Hissing” Cockroaches

New to the Schrader critter family is an “intrusion” of Madagascar hissing cockroaches (much like a “gaggle” of geese or a “clowder” of cats). These unique insects hiss by blowing air through respiratory openings on their abdomens. Molly Check, director at the Schrader Center, finds that kids enjoy meeting the roaches, and the encounters are often a mix of equal parts fascination and revulsion.

The roaches do their job to help educate kids about their species. Their unique array of sounds and large size make them a favorite among visiting students.

Children’s Library is a Favorite Spot

For those who might prefer a little less stimulation or some secluded quiet time, the Schrader Center offers its children’s library, created through the support of the Brooks Bird Club. Tucked away from the activity and noise of the other exhibits, the library keeps books for kids that they can read in-house at kid-sized tables and chairs or check out and take home. The Brooks Bird Club also offers books for adults.

The Schrader staff try to keep the exhibits fresh. A fossil pit, a stream table, and more touch boxes are all in the works for the upcoming season, so visitors are encouraged to return as the fall and winter progress.

Puppet Stage and Play Area at Schrader

Classes & Events

For those visitors interested in more directed activities, the Schrader Center offers a full season of programming, beginning with a Brownie Badge Fest on Saturday, November 10. Two sessions, morning and afternoon, give scouts a chance to work on badges tailor made for a day at the Schrader Center. In the morning, scouts will work on Hiker, Bugs, and First Aid badges. In the afternoon, they’ll go for Outdoor Adventurer, Outdoor Art Creator, and Home Scientist badges.

On November 15, the annual Holiday Show and Sale comes to Oglebay Institute, with locations at both the Stifel Fine Arts Center and Schrader. Local artists will showcase hand-crafted goods. The show runs through the holiday season. On opening night, shoppers at Stifel will enjoy appetizers, while the Schrader Center will feature desserts by Whisk.

In December, bundle children up for a candy cane hunt in the woods. On December 8 and 15, families will craft a holiday bag and then take to the trails in search of hidden red-and-white treasure.  Hot cocoa follows.

For birders, December is a great time to get ready for the national Christmas bird count. On Saturday December 22, you can participate in the nation-wide birding activity at the Schrader Center, in your own backyard, and even from the comfort of your living room window. You can bird as long or as little as you like. At the end of the day, Schrader will collect and compile your data and add it in to the national count. It’s is a great way for scientists to understand the dynamics of North American bird populations.

Backyard Bird Count at the Schrader Center, Wheeling, WV

“It’s really important for citizen science,” said Check. “It’s the largest citizen science bird count that happens in the entire country. And people all over the country count during this week.” Contact the Schrader Center for more information.

Climbing the Walls?

For many caregivers, the week between Christmas and the return to school can be a long one. Thankfully, the Schrader staff will be offering a School’s Out Childcare day on December 28.

“They can come for a full day or a half a day,” said Molly Check. “We try to do it on some of those days when the kids are out of school. It’s just a nice childcare option.”

Parents of multiple children should note that Schrader offers a multi-child discount. Oglebay Institute members will pay $15 for the first child and $5 for additional kids. The theme that day will be “snow creatures.”

Check said, “For all of the School’s Out days, we try to give that outdoor time that they really crave. For December we’re going to be learn about all the wild animals that live around here. We’ll play games, go outside and build forts if there’s snow. And we always have a little campfire and do marshmallows and hot cocoa around the fire. It’s just a really fun day. Structured, but still a lot of time for the kids to just explore and get some free play.”

Winter can feel long and dark, but the Schrader Center offers a warm and friendly place to spend time as a family or on your own.

For more information on seasonal programming, visit www.oionline.com or call (304) 242-6855.