A live eagle at Georgia Southern University? Makes perfect sense as the long time mascot of the university. However, until 25 years ago, the idea never occurred to anyone.
“I cannot believe the announcer just called that Turkey Vulture a bald eagle. That’s not acceptable,” said Harry Mathews. That day at a GSU football game in 1990, an idea was born that would evolve into today’s Center for Wildlife Education. An outdoor enthusiast, GSU graduate and biology major, Harry made a pitch to bring a real bald eagle to campus as the official mascot. He felt it was important for students, staff and GSU supporters to recognize, respect and preserve the national bird. The concept met with interest, but the eagle would need a home and someone to care for it.
With Steve Hein at the helm, The Center for Wildlife Education has served as a leading environmental educational facility and tourism show stopper for over twenty years. Located on 17 acres within the GSU campus, the mission is to provide wildlife encounters for the 17,5000 school children and citizens of the region annually, as well as for visitors seeking a unique experience while in Statesboro.
Using wild animals to demonstrate their habitats, visitors learn about the species natural to this region of Georgia and the United States. Humans observe and even interact with the wildlife in their environment through programs and live demonstrations.
Children can immerse themselves during the summer in Junior Naturalist Camps entitled CHALLENGE 2015 “Survive the Wild.” Full of exciting events and teamwork, students will employ critical thinking skills that challenge young naturalists. Ages 6 – 13 years will learn about king snakes, alligators, hawks and eagles. With limited spaces available, be sure to register your youth now.
Check out weekday presentations during June, July and August (closed weekends); visitors should visit the Center’s website (http://academics.georgiasouthern.edu/wildlife/visit/schedule/) to discover ongoing activities. This gem is worth the visit for all ages!