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The idea for the Center began in 1990 with the misidentification of a large bird flying over Paulson Stadium. As Georgia Southern University’s football team was about to win their fourth national championship, a television camera focused on a bird flying overhead, and the sports announcer called it a bald eagle. In fact, it was just a turkey vulture. Afterwards, Harry Mathews, a University supporter and outdoors enthusiast, decided Georgia Southern should have a bald eagle on campus. Master falconer, Steve Hein, was contacted and the search began. From the quest for a bald eagle, the Center for Wildlife Education and Lamar Q. Ball Jr. Raptor Center as seen today was created.

Since its opening in 1997, the Center for Wildlife Education has grown into one of the leading environmental education facilities in Georgia. The mission of the Center is to provide wildlife encounters for school children and citizens of this region, successfully measured by over 17,500 children and adults educated on-site annually. Additionally, the Center takes its programs “on the road,” presenting over 100 off-site programs annually. With the use of live animal ambassadors, program participants are educated on numerous species of wildlife native to Georgia, their habitats, and the impact humans have on the environment.

Last updated: 1/18/2023