The Center for Wildlife Education and The Lamar Q Ball, Jr. Raptor Center strives to provide quality environmental education for visitors of all ages. The Center exists to support Georgia Southern University in its environmental education programs, as well as to provide wildlife encounters for the school children and citizens of this region. All species of native Georgia fauna are within the scope of the Center’s endeavors. The critical role of humans in the environment is the unifying theme for its programs.
The origin of the Center for Wildlife Education and Lamar Q Ball, Jr. Raptor Center began in 1990 with the misidentification of a large bird of prey flying over Paulson Stadium. As Georgia Southern University’s football team was about to win its fourth national championship, a television camera focused on a bird flying overhead, and a sports announcer called it a Bald Eagle. It was in fact a Turkey Vulture. After the sports broadcast Harry Mathews, a University supporter and outdoor enthusiast, decided Georgia Southern should have an American 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 as seen today was created!!
Since its opening, the Center for Wildlife Education has grown into one of the leading environmental education facilities in Georgia. At over 17 acres in size, the Center supports Georgia Southern University's environmental education programs. The mission of the Center is to provide wildlife encounters for the school children and citizens of this region, successfully measured by the over 17,500 children and adults educated on-site annually. Additionally, the Wildlife Center takes its programs “on the road,” presenting over 125 off-site programs annually across the country. With the use of live animals, program participants are educated on numerous species of wildlife native to Georgia and the U.S., their habitats and the impact humans have on our environment.