NC Aquariums Welcome New Directors


The North Carolina Aquariums Division is proud to announce new directors at aquariums in Pine Knoll Shores and Roanoke Island. Liz Baird comes to the Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium after serving 24 years at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. She will begin her new position Sept. 2. Larry Warner, who has a 32-year career in museums and aquariums, will serve as director for the Roanoke Island location. He will begin his new position Sept. 3.

Warner served as exhibits curator at the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island for more than six years, where he was instrumental in the development of the Soundside Pier, the hands-on Operation: Sea Turtle Rescue exhibit, the Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation (STAR) Center sea turtle hospital, and the aquarium’s $6.5 million renovation, completed in 2016. Most recently, he acted as the director of exhibits for Connecticut’s Mystic Aquarium, overseeing the development of numerous conservation-based exhibits. 

Warner also served on the honors and awards committee for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and was co-vice chair of evaluation for the Visitor Studies Association Zoo & Aquarium Focus Interest Group. He holds a Master of Science from Arizona State University.

"It's truly an honor to be returning as director to a facility, a staff, and a community for which I have great respect.” Warner said. “I'm eager to strengthen and forge new community and statewide partnerships for preservation and conservation of aquatic environments while continuing to provide an educationally enriching and quality guest experience."

Warner’s arrival follows the departure of Maylon White, who accepted the position of division director for the North Carolina Aquariums in March.

"Larry's familiarity and previous contributions to the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island, as well as the new perspectives he gained while at Mystic Aquarium, make him a great pick for director," White said. "His experience and knowledge will help us continue our mission and advance the aquarium’s goals."

The excitement on Roanoke Island is shared by the Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores with the announcement of its new director Liz Baird, who was instrumental in the development and cultivation of the Museum of Natural Sciences’ education and outreach programs. 

With nearly 30 years of shaping the way individuals see, learn and appreciate the world around them, Baird is looking forward to the challenge and responsibility of leading the aquarium. 

“This is like coming home,” said Baird, who founded the national “Take A Child Outside Week” program in 2007 to reconnect children and nature. “I have grown up going to and camping at Salter Path. It was here that I grew a love for the coastal region.”

The 2010 recipient of the environmental educator of the year from the Environmental Educators of North Carolina, she is committed to sharing the wonder of science and nature with everyone.

“We’ve had the opportunity to work with Liz on a variety of projects over the years and her experience and partnerships in research will be invaluable to the work the aquariums are currently doing,” White said. “Her understanding of dynamic ecosystems from rainforests to reefs, and how to share that knowledge with people of all ages is incredible and make her an excellent fit for the aquarium team.”

Baird succeeds Hap Fatzinger, who accepted the position of director for the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher in December.

Baird has a bachelor's degree in Biology from Salem College and a Master of Science in education from North Carolina State University. She also serves as an adjunct professor for Johns Hopkins University.

North Carolina Aquariums are located at Fort Fisher, Pine Knoll Shores, and on Roanoke Island, and includes Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head. The North Carolina Aquariums are dedicated to the mission of “Inspiring appreciation and conservation of our aquatic environments.” For more information, see 

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