BIG RAPIDS - The looks on children's faces say it all when walking into the Card Wildlife Education Center at Ferris State University. Little mouths droop in awe at the array of mounted animals placed before them such as a baboon, hippo, lion and polar bear.
A wildlife education resource in the Mecosta County area for more than five years, the center will be honored during a benefit dinner April 21 at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Conference Center in Big Rapids. The wild game dinner begins at 7:30 p.m., with festivities beginning at 6:30 p.m., and a Card Wildlife Education Center open house at 5 p.m.
Proceeds from the dinner will benefit a mini-grant program designed to help defray transportation costs for schools wishing to bring student groups to the museum, as well as center renovations that include dedication of another room to house animals from Asia. The museum currently has rooms dedicated to displays of animals from Michigan and North America, Africa and Asia, and South America and the South Pacific, along with a conference room.
"The center is a wonderful educational resource and definitely worth the trip for area school children," Ferris senior and center volunteer Bret Muter said. "We hope to be able to open the opportunities the center offers to a much larger audience."
The Card Wildlife Education Center is a 5,000 square-foot facility located on the ground floor of the Arts, Sciences and Education Commons building on Ferris' campus. The primary function of the center is to serve as an educational resource for Ferris students, K-12 school children and community members. Educators and others may make arrangements to bring their classes or groups to the center by calling Dr. Joseph Lipar at (231) 591-5633 or (231) 591-5387 for an appointment.
Tickets for the benefit are available through April 12. The plated wild game dinner includes a choice of venison chop loin, Cornish game hen or salmon. Also featured throughout the evening will be silent and live auctions, raffles and live entertainment by Ferris sophomore Ashley Grutter, who most recently competed for a spot on the television show "Nashville Star."
For more information, to purchase benefit dinner tickets or to make a gift to the Card Wildlife Education Center, please call (231) 591-3615. Details about establishing scholarships or endowments may be obtained from the Advancement Office at (231) 591-3815.