Mark Layton is the Wildlife Center Director here at Refreshing Mountain, though he originally got his start at Refreshing Mountain when he was 16 years old, working in the housekeeping department. That same summer he was given the chance to work in the activities department and immediately loved it. Through that opportunity he realized how much he enjoyed working outside and interacting with people through the job. He became very interested in the zipline industry as well as rock climbing.
Mark eventually left Refreshing Mountain to pursue another opportunity working for a Zipline company out of state. However, in February of 2015 he returned to RM to begin a Nature Program. Ever since Mark was a kid he loved being out in nature and he especially loved reptiles. His goal from a young age was to one day work professionally with reptiles and other wildlife. He also eventually realized that he enjoyed teaching people about the things that he was passionate about. This new opportunity was a perfect way for him to combine his love for the outdoors, working with reptiles, and teaching.
The wildlife center started out as a very small nature program. Now, 7 years later, it is still on the modest side of things, however our center is home to one of the most species diverse reptile exhibits in this part of Pennsylvania. Mark’s primary interest and expertise is in PA native reptiles and venomous snakes. You will likely notice the emphasis put on those two categories of reptiles when you tour our facility. The wildlife center also has a growing birds of prey exhibit.
Mark’s favorite parts of his job are being able to teach our guests about conservation and stewardship of God’s creation, caring for the reptile collection in the Wildlife Center, and simply seeing guests excited about being out in the beauty of nature.
Some days you may also see Mark over in the RM activities department, helping make sure things are running smoothly, or occasionally guiding a zipline tour.
Outside of work some of Mark’s favorite things include going on adventures with his wife and two kids, camping, climbing trees, field herping (looking for reptiles in the wild), nature photography, reading books with a good cup of coffee or tea in hand, and playing guitar.
Lastly, Mark doesn’t wear shoes very often. If he is nowhere to be found he is likely barefoot wandering around in the forest somewhere.