TUPPER LAKE. N.Y. (NEWS10) – An Adirondack wilderness center has been recognized by New York State for its work to bounce back with new programs and offerings after closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Wild Center’s “Get Outside – Push Forward & Thrive Project” was commended for reopening the center campus at a difficult time.

This week, the Wild Center received a 2022 New York State Tourism Excellence Award from the state Tourism Industry Association. The center’s post-pandemic program was selected in the “Excellence in Overall Tourism Marketing: Private Sector” category.

“The past two years have been challenging, but the creativity, passion and commitment to the community shown by our staff has been unwavering,” said Wild Center Marketing Director Nick Gunn. “We thank NYSTIA for this ultimate recognition of our work to not only showcase The Wild Center, but to bring attention to the Adirondacks as a whole.”

The “Get Outside” program promoted the Wild Center for its 115 acres of outdoor space as ideal for families who wanted to go out and visit a new attraction after staying indoors through much of 2020. The center features science-based exhibits and programs, largely outdoors, to educate the public about how Adirondack communities interact with the natural world around them.

During and directly following the pandemic, those programs had to change their approach. The center offered virtual tours and digital programs, like Lunchtime Live, which gave would-be visitors a way to tune in to what was going on around the Tupper Lake wilderness. As things began to reopen, the center started its Wild Lights event, which guides visitors through the changes in nature in the forest at night.

“We saw experience at attractions such as The Wild Center become more personalized,” said Wild Center Deputy Director Hillarie Logan-Dechene. “We thought of it as a curated experience – small groups of your close family or friends visiting. And we were able to offer space and fresh air for folks to enjoy our animals, exhibits, Wild Walk and other experiences.”

NYSTIA awards are given out to recognize work by state attractions and marketing to keep visitors coming to see what’s going on across different parts of the state. This year’s awards are acknowledging work done by places like the Wild Center to bring visitors back.