Learning

Joseph Lipar, Card Wildlife Education Center Director, Assistant Professor of Biology

by Sandy Gholston - August 6, 2010

Joseph LiparJoseph Lipar maintains an ageless zest for his work at Ferris State University.

An assistant professor of Biology and director of the Card Wildlife Education Center, Lipar frequently rekindles his personal fountain of youth any time a group of youngsters visit Ferris to reap the benefits of the Card Wildlife experience. While the Center is open to visitors of all ages, and has its fair share of adults, nothing matches or beats the smiles Lipar sees as groups of boys and girls journey through the 5,000-square-foot facility inside the Arts and Sciences Commons. It is a top-notch educational resource for students of all ages and an eye-opening museum with entertainment value -- particularly for children.

"I think it's the perfect place to take the kids," Lipar said of the Center, which has almost all of its specimens coming from benefactor Roger Card, a 1963 graduate of Ferris' College of Engineering Technology, and his late wife, Debra, who both have hunted animals from around the world. "The museum is used as a resource to learn about biology, to learn about wildlife, to learn about ecology and environmental biology. We have a lot of visitors who come to the Center on their own or as part of a scheduled tour."

Lipar, coordinator of the Biology bachelor's program at Ferris, keeps busy away from Card Wildlife as he teaches a variety of classes at the University. Winner of the Indiana University Teaching Excellence Recognition Award in 1999, Lipar instructs a long list of Ferris courses including Nature Study, Birds of Michigan, General Biology, Human Anatomy and Physiology, Vertebrate Natural History and Endocrinology.

Lipar, who earned a Ph.D. in Biology from Indiana University and bachelor's degrees from Michigan State in Biochemistry and Zoology, has become known for his work with Card Wildlife. He takes great pride in the role he and others play in the museum's growth.

"We have nearly 200 mounts of animals from all over the world," he said of a facility that includes a Michigan and North American Display, an African Display and an Asian Display. "People who visit the museum can get close to a lot of the (animal) mounts and learn more about them and where they come from around the world.

"The polar bear is one of our favorite mounts along with the lion. At Card Wildlife, visitors can get very close, and a lot closer than at other museums to the animals," he added.

Lipar helps lead an effort to bring as many people as possible through the Card Wildlife Center. A while back, Lipar estimated more than 9,000 people visited the Center over the course of the year. Of the visitors, about two-thirds come from schools, Boy Scout troops or other organized groups, he said. Tours are hosted for students from many local schools in the immediate area, but Lipar mentioned that the Center is visited by young people from areas like Ludington, Mount Pleasant and Muskegon.

Through the work of the Center, Ferris helps invest in the education of area youth.

As part of that effort, Lipar applied for funding to help area schools and other groups bring more children to the Center in support of the already existing "Card Wildlife Education Center Travel Fund Reimbursement Project." As a result, The Ferris Foundation gave an Exceptional Merit Grant Award in the sum of $4,836 to assist the Center in its efforts to bring more students to the Card Wildlife Center.

"Every other year we hold a benefit for the Center, and some of the money raised has gone toward helping schools with their travel costs when they visit our facility," Lipar said. "This grant will give us the opportunity to increase the number of students who tour the Center, and it will also provide additional experience for our tour guides, many of whom are Education students, so that they may further develop their leadership and interpersonal communication skills. It's a win-win situation for everyone."