The Hatteras Island Ocean Center, located in northern Hatteras Village, will soon be under new ownership, due to an upcoming acquisition by the Hatteras Village Civic Association.
Conceived and founded by Eric Kaplan, the Ocean Center first opened in 2013. In recent years, Hampton-Sydney College in Virginia has operated the center, with students from the college serving as summer interns, and leading the programs and projects for visitors in the Hatteras village community.
Upon Hampton Sydney’s recent decision to not continue with the Hatteras Island Ocean Center, Kaplan brought all the people involved to the table, and the non-profit Hatteras Village Civic Association agreed to oversee the operation of the center for the remaining years of the 10-year rental agreement with the help of the current director, Shirley Wicker.
Another part of the agreement includes a donation of a 4.6-acre area of marsh with a boardwalk behind the center to Hatteras Village, to also be overseen by the HCVA.
“We appreciate the passion that Eric has for the Ocean Center and its continuation, [and] we also appreciate the dedication that Shirley has for the mission of the Ocean Center,” stated Karla Jarvis of HVCA. “We know that with the support of and resources available from the Civic Association and its Board of Directors, the center can quickly become an important, integral part of our community.”
“We plan to market it to schools and school groups, to market the programming more widely and integrated with our other events, and to focus on grants and other revenue streams to reach the goal of the center becoming an independent, non-profit organization that is actively involved in the village and the larger island community.”
Once the transfer is complete, which is scheduled for sometime in November of this year, a multi-pronged Board of Directors will be created, with board members focusing on the areas of marketing, education, and revenue. The board will also begin the process of recruiting summer interns to lead the longstanding programming and presentations that have become a fixture at the Hatteras village landmark.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this project, and pleased to know that the Ocean Center will continue as an educational resource for the community and visitors alike,” stated Shirley Wicker.
The Hatteras Island Ocean Center is currently open Monday through Friday, 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. It will be closed during the winter months but will open again in the spring, ready for the 2023 season.