May 17th: Mark Layton – How a passion for Reptiles fueled the founding of a Wildlife Center.


May 1, 2019 by lancasterherp

Mark will share how his passion for reptiles helped him start the Refreshing Mountain wildlife center, a nature facility that houses dozens of native and exotic herps and educates thousands of people about herpetology. You’ll learn how he first became interested in reptiles, the mentors and building blocks that helped him turn his dreams into practical steps, his 2 month trip to Australia, and how he partnered with a local business to turn his herpetological vision into a reality.

He’ll share the process of starting the Wildlife Center from the ground up, including the building expansion, the center’s growing herp collection, acquiring the native species permits through Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, as well as future vision of the center, including birds of prey and much more.


Mark Layton is the Director of the Refreshing Mountain Wildlife Center, which was founded in 2015. He has studied reptiles and amphibians for many years, and lived all over the US and Australia. His primary focus today is Pennsylvania native herps, as well as venomous herps world-wide.

Mark grew up in Lancaster County and always dreamed of working with reptiles. His childhood was spent exploring the woods, and catching frogs and snakes whenever possible. He started volunteering at a small “Nature Shack” at a camp in Ephrata, Pennsylvania at the age of 9 and then with Forgotten Friend Reptile Sanctuary in his teenage years. His work as a zip line instructor has taken him around the country and the world to extreme rock climbing challenges and diverse habitat exploration. In the last decade Mark spent a lot of time living in California, Tennessee, and Australia, before settling back into Lancaster County in 2015, to start a family of his own, and an amazing wildlife center.


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