Stephanie Ratcliffe, The Wild Center’s Executive Director, has received Clarkson University’s highest community service honor, the Bertrand H. Snell Award, at a dinner hosted by Clarkson President Tony Collins and University trustees.
The Bertrand H. Snell Award was created by the Clarkson board of trustees in 1981 to recognize individuals of outstanding merit and to honor Snell’s significant contributions to the University, the North Country, and the nation. Snell, the congressman who introduced the original St. Lawrence Seaway legislation in 1917, was a Clarkson trustee for 47 years.
The award recognizes a new generation of leaders who share Snell’s commitment to the North Country and greater community. Recipients are chosen for their professional, business or educational accomplishments, combined with demonstrated integrity and concern for the community. This is only the 14th time in more than 35 years that Clarkson has presented the award.
Stephanie Ratcliffe has served as Executive Director of The Wild Center in Tupper Lake, since 2007, after joining the launch team as director of operations and programs, four years before its 2006 opening.
Ratcliffe has been at the helm during the creation of The Wild Center’s current exhibits and programs, including all of the interior live exhibits and multimedia presentations. She has been responsible for the majority of major initiatives, including the development of Wild Walk, an award-winning 850-foot-long elevated treetop walkway.
Ratcliffe oversees several initiatives on climate change, including the Youth Climate Program, which was recognized by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy as part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, and by international groups such as UNESCO. She also oversaw the production of the award-winning film A Matter of Degrees, narrated by Sigourney Weaver, and convened at The Wild Center a national policy conference and two regional conferences on climate change.
She was one of 17 international science museum directors selected to participate in a year-long leadership program funded by the Noyce Foundation. The Noyce Leadership Fellows program seeks to enable chief executives of science centers to deepen their institutions’ involvement with their communities.
Ratcliffe also serves as executive committee secretary and diversity committee chair of the Board of the Association of Science Technology Centers (ASTC) based in Washington, D.C., serving science centers internationally.
Originally from West Virginia, Ratcliffe earned her bachelor of science degree in art marketing and museum management from Appalachian State University and her master of science in teaching/museum education from George Washington University.
She was recruited to join The Wild Center team from her position of senior director for all exhibitions at the Maryland Science Center, where she worked for 13 years. She began her career in museums at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Prior to her work at the Smithsonian, she also developed exhibits for the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.
Ratcliffe and her husband, Peter Shrope, artist and Town of Brighton supervisor, live in Rainbow Lake, NY.
Past recipients of the The Bertrand H. Snell Award include former New York State Lieutenant Governor Robert J. Duffy, former New York State Senator Jim Wright, former Congressman John McHugh, former Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities President Abraham Lackman, former Executive Director of NYSTAR of the New York Foundation for Science, Technology, and Innovation Edward Reinfurt, and Dr. Francis Trudeau, founding president of the Trudeau Institute.
Photo: Clarkson President Tony Collins presents the Bertrand H. Snell Award to Stephanie Ratcliffe.