By Ethan Mitchell and Sarah E. Braswell
South Georgia State College (SGSC) recently welcomed Georgia Southern University (GSU) Center for Wildlife Education’s (CWE) Birds-of-Prey show in an event hosted by South Georgia State’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Center. The event drew large crowds that included students, alumni, current and retired employees, and members of the community, with 200 audience members on the Douglas campus and 60 in Waycross.
Steve Hein, Director, and Scott Courdin, Wildlife Curator, of the Georgia Southern Center for Wildlife Education brought several birds of prey to SGSC campuses to educate and entertain the audiences. Included in their menagerie were: a European Kestrel, red-tailed hawk, a highly vocal red-shouldered hawk, Harris’s hawk, and Eurasian eagle-owl. Also present at the event were Freedom, GSU’s American Bald Eagle, and a peregrine falcon, the world’s fastest bird, capable of reaching speeds of 200 mph.
As the crowd sat in awe, the birds flew from handler to handler and perch to perch, often sailing across the auditorium and ruffling the feathers of several audience members. Given that the hawk is SGSC’s mascot, it seemed only fitting that SGSC’s president herself – Dr. Ingrid Thompson-Sellers – should be given the opportunity to fly one of these majestic birds. When invited to the stage and offered the gauntlet, Dr. Thompson-Sellers was, of course, a natural.
Audience response was enthusiastic, with many complimenting the show and expressing excitement over future STEM center activities.
“It was fantastic. I’m so glad we came,” said Dr. Randy Braswell, retired Vice President for Academic Affairs at South Georgia.
Dr. Thompson-Sellers offered further praise, saying “Wow! You have really set the bar high! I am really looking forward to your next event.”
SGSC’s STEM Center is proud to say that people will not have to wait very long for more activities, because the STEM center hosts both a hands-on STEM event and an interactive STEM speaker on campus each month, as well as also offering an off-campus STEM field trip. The center devotes the rest of its time to efforts to promote and enhance the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math education for students of all ages through services such as tutoring, conducting workshops, and providing resources for the academic success of students both on the college campus and in the community.