St. Johns River Center

The new facility on the banks of the St. Johns River is a key destination in the redevelopment of the Palatka riverfront district. Funded by Georgia Pacific, this educational facility is designed to provide exhibits, classroom and lab space for students and visitors to learn about the local river and wetlands ecosystems, Palatka history, and ecotourism. As visitors walk in, there is a large wetlands diorama, with a huge bald cypress tree ‘growing’ up through the ceiling into the skylight above. A series of illustrated characters guide visitors through the exhibition and challenge them to explore around them. Three interactive ‘iSpy Stations’ provide visitors with items to find and a worksheet to record their discoveries. The activities are designed to provide random clues, so the experience can be different each visit. Other experiences include a giant globe showing wetlands around the world, a microscope station, and underwater river scene, and an interactive map where you can follow along the path and read the journal entries of explorer William Bartram. In the end, visitors are encouraged to go out and sightsee in Palatka and the St. Johns River area with a newfound spirit of exploration, and a better understanding of the natural world around them.

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