What is the Center?
The Card/Riley Conservation and Wildlife Education Center is a 5,000 square foot natural history museum showcasing hundreds of wildlife specimens from around the world. The facility is located on the ground floor of the Arts, Sciences and Education Commons (Room 011) on the Ferris State University campus in Big Rapids, Michigan.
What is the Purpose of the Center?
The primary function of the Card/Riley Conservation and Wildlife Education Center is to serve as an educational resource for Ferris students, K-12 school children, and members of the Michigan Community.
History of the Card/Riley Conservation and Wildlife Education Center
Initially, the wildlife specimens in the Card/Riley Conservation and Wildlife Education Center were donated by Ferris alumnus Roger Card and his late wife, Debra. Their worldwide travels and their generosity resulted in the creation of a unique educational experience for visitors. In addition to donating the specimens, the Cards provided funding to remodel an area to house the Center and its collections.
Though a generous gift from the estate of the late George F. Riley, the Ferris Board of Trustees approved the renaming of the Card Wildlife Education Center as the “Card/Riley Conservation and Wildlife Education Center” at its December 2019 meeting. The renamed facility serves as the new permanent home for The Riley Collection, which includes animal mounts, trophies, artifacts and artwork assembled by Riley, who passed away in January 2018.
"The Center allows people to observe these animals they may not otherwise have the opportunity to see, realistically displayed, not just as a picture in a book," noted Roger Card, who is a 1963 graduate of Ferris' College of Engineering Technology. "Ferris students are able to see the animals up-close, and we've supported opening the Center to students from local elementaries and high schools."
The Card/Riley Conservation and Wildlife Education Center reflects the hunting and fishing culture of northern Michigan. A world-renowned hunter, Roger Card has been honored by Safari Club International with the World Hunting Award Ring. The ring represents the premier honor in the world of hunting.
A World of Animals
The main exhibit area contains specimens from Michigan, North America, South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia. In addition, the Center contains an Educational Resource Center and a meeting room that can be used for small professional or community gatherings.
The Michigan and North American Display contains more than 90 full-body and head mounts including moose, elk, white-tailed deer, caribou, black bear, grizzly bear, polar bear, muskox, gray wolf, red fox, cougar, and lynx. In addition, the collection includes several fish, waterfowl, and gamebird species.
The African Display includes over 50 mounts, including lions, leopards, spotted hyena, giraffe, white rhinoceros, hippopotamus, cape buffalo, warthog, olive baboon, and numerous species of antelope such as gemsbok, greater kudu, lechwe, Lord Derby's eland, bongo, and hartebeest.
The Asian Display includes over 20 mounts, including blue sheep, Mongolian gazelle, axis deer, yak, and Siberian ibex. The European Display includes, among other specimens, mounts of red deer and wild boar, while the Australian Display includes animals such as the red kangaroo, wallaby, and brush-tailed possum.
The Card/Riley Conservation and Wildlife Education Center features an Educational Resource Center that includes a library and computer facility for students conducting wildlife research. A tactile display area enables visitors to handle many different types of animal pelts and to compare horns and antlers. The meeting room area, which is available for public use, is complete with projection facilities and seating for up to 40 people.