The Hatteras Island Ocean Center, located in North Hatteras Village, will soon be under new ownership, due to an upcoming acquisition by the Hatteras Village Civic Association.
Designed and founded by Eric Kaplan, the Ocean Center opened in 2013. For the past several years, Hampton-Sydney College in Virginia has operated the center, with students from the college serving as summer interns and directing programs and projects for visitors in the Hatteras Village Community.
Following Hampton Sydney’s recent decision not to continue with the Hatteras Island Ocean Center, Kaplan has brought everyone involved together, and the non-profit Hatteras Village Civic Association (HVCA) has agreed to oversee the operation of the center. for the remaining years of the 10-year lease with the assistance of the current manager, Shirley Wicker.
Another part of the deal includes a donation of a 4.6-acre marsh area with a boardwalk behind the center at Hatteras Village, which will also be overseen by the HCVA.
“We appreciate Eric’s passion for the Ocean Center and its continuity, [and] we also appreciate Shirley’s dedication to the Ocean Center’s mission,” said Karla Jarvis of HVCA. “We know that with the support and resources available from the Civic Association and its Board of Directors, the center can quickly become an important part of our community.”
“We plan to market it to schools and school groups, market the programming more widely and integrate it with our other events, and focus on grants and other revenue streams to achieve the center’s goal of become an independent non-profit organization that is actively involved in the village and the greater island community.
Once the handover is complete, in November this year, a multi-pronged board 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 long-running programming and presentations.
“It’s going to take some effort over the winter months, some volunteer time and a bit of elbow grease,” said Shirley Wicker. “But it’s necessary for the center, and the center is ultimately a good thing for Hatteras Village, so it will be done.”