SHERBURNE — The Friends of Rogers will be hosting the 45th annual Winter Living Celebration from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, January 21 at Rogers Environmental Education Center, located at 2721 State Route 80 in Sherburne.
The celebration is sponsored by NBT Bank and NBT Insurance Agency, and will feature horse drawn carriage rides, an ice safety from Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) rangers Jeremy Oldroyd and Mike Burkholder, fly-tying demonstrations by Trout Unlimited, and ice sculptures by Stan the Ice Man.
As snow is not expected this weekend, the group has opted to trade in snowshoeing and cross-country skiing for guided hikes provided by the Chenango Bird Club and the Friends of Rogers Senior Environmental Educator.
"Rogers right now is really going through a transformation. We have new staff, myself included, and our senior environmental educator is from Hamilton and she’s returning back here after a 25-year career as an interpretive guide and educator," explained Friends of Rogers Executive Director David Carson. "She will be leading the public on a series of guided hikes. So in lieu of what is normally snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, we will be using that opportunity to highlight time with our new staff."
Additionally, food and drinks will be available for purchase and provided by the Sherburne Rotary Club, Jennie Larchar and Tom Murphy will be performing throughout the event, and other area organizations will be in attendance, such as the Bullthistle Hiking Club and Cornell Cooperative Extension.
Those looking for more hands-on activities can try their hand at cross-cut sawing, engage with Rogers wildlife by becoming a human bird feeder, stop by the two fire pits sponsored by Blue Ox to roast some marshmallows and make s'mores, or head into the Visitors Center to make crafts, sponsored by Golden Artist Colors.
Friends of Rogers has been going through a big transition recently, with the departure of Executive Director Simon Solomon, and the onboarding of new staff members, including new Executive Director David Carson.
"The transition has been great," said Carson. "I am blown away by the amount of support that we have from our board. Our board in many instances functions almost like dedicated staff. We are able to do so much with a full time staff of four because of the sheer scale of volunteer support that we have, and that really starts with our board."
He said despite the pandemic, visitation to the Rogers Center has not slowed down. With restrictions eased over the past year, the organization has been able to host fun and educational events and programs for the community that has supported them for so long.
"To have 600 acres at our disposal it’s just incredibly exciting. I’m still getting to know the grounds and we’re in great shape. I feel really fortunate to come work for an organization that is on such solid financial footing. There’s no fires to put out, it’s all just opportunistic thinking about the coming year," said Carson.
"A lot of people didn't come out of the pandemic that way. But I think that for really trying times for the last couple years people recognize just how important a space like Rogers is, and our visitorship actually increased during that period," he continued. "So now that we’re able to gather again, Rogers is front and center for where people want to spend their time."
One of the many ways to enjoy all Rogers has to offer is by attending the 45th annual Winter Living Celebration on Saturday. Carson encourages anyone interested to stop by and enjoy the festivities.
"Come one, come all. It’s open to the public, there’s something here for everyone," he said. "The more that our community can be kind of re-apprised of the fact that Rogers isn’t just a place for kids, that it’s a place for all ages. So whether you have kids or not, whether you have grandkids or not, come and enjoy the space, see what it's like, and get excited about using all the acreage and our visitors center over the coming year."
Rogers Environmental Education Center winter hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Wednesday through Saturday, and 12 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
For more information on Friends of Rogers and Rogers Center, call 607-674-4733, visit their website at FriendsofRogers.org, or check out the Friends of Rogers Environmental Education Center, Inc. Facebook page.