"We've certainly developed our programming. When we first opened we were starting from scratch," Engel said. "We have an educator who works year-round ... and we do a lot more programming. Actually, because of our Friends group supplying us with grant money, we're able to pay for school buses to come up."
That means schoolchildren can still enjoy the park's resources in a time of dwindling school budgets.
The celebration's events are planned to make use of the entire park. Scientists will lead an insect exploration and a geology walk and seine for fish at the lake. There will be programs at the historic Knox School No. 5 and guided tours of the Native Plant Gardens. Members of the Albany Area Amateur Astronomers Club will have solar-safe telescopes for viewing features of the sun and visitors can bring fossils and rocks to be identified by geologist Chuck Ver Straeten.
Youngsters will be able to paint T-shirts, go on a scavenger hunt, have their faces painted and participate in the creation of a nature mural.
The Knox Traditional Strings and The 3 J's will provide music and Four Corners Luncheonette will offer lunch fare, baked goods, and beverages. There will be free ice cream, compliments of Stewart's, and a celebration cake.
More information and a full schedule of events can be found at friendsofthacherpark.org
Engel said that without groups like the Friends of Thacher Park and Thompson's Lake State Park, the Nature Center wouldn't be the place it is today. Interns and natural sciences students have also conducted research and helped out at Thacher.
"We have had a lot of volunteers over the years, and that has certainly helped us develop all the programs that we have and kept the area looking great," she said.
The Thacher Nature Center is open year-round, Tuesday through Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Special events are held year-round. For more information call 872-0800 or go to www.nysparks.com.