Director Ray Perry Retires June, 2018

A big crowd gathered at the Five Rivers Visitor Center on June 5th to wish director Ray Perry well on his next venture - retirement! We enjoyed light refreshments, two very impressive cakes, and an opportunity to share some very entertaining stories of his time with DEC and State Parks. Our best to Ray!

From the "NYS Conservationist Magazine," April 2018

Growing up in a small Massachusetts city, Ray Perry and his friends didn’t have easy access to natural areas, but they still spent as much time outdoors as possible. And when he met his future wife, Lysle, who shared his outdoor passion, they decided to pursue careers in outdoor recreation and environmental education.

Ray gained experience through a series of internships and volunteer positions, including one at DEC’s Five Rivers Environmental Education Center. Afterwards he was hired to start an environmental education program at Saratoga Spa State Park, then did a stint at Five Rivers where he was the Project WILD coordinator, and went on to coordinate the NYS Parks’ Bird Conservation Areas program.

Like the call of the wild, Ray later returned to Five Rivers, and became director in 2013. He oversees management of the facility and its programs, yet credits his staff for their efforts to make Five Rivers such a popular destination for young and old. With their help, Ray tackles new areas of natural history each year, learning as much as he can, and then shares that knowledge—and his passion—with visitors. For Ray, a good day includes leading a nature walk or engaging in informal interactions at the visitor center. But guiding an outdoor program is his first choice: “If a few good birds are seen, that would be ideal.”

After 34 years as an environmental educator, Ray plans to retire in late June. He and Lysle will remain active, enjoying birding, paddling, running, biking, hiking and geocaching. He will miss the work and the people. Ray is happy that many environmental programs he initiated have endured. The young boy who had to seek out natural
areas and create outdoor adventures never lost his passion for nature. And that passion and love of the outdoors has been passed on to new generations.