Night on the Wild Side was the National Wildlife Visitor Center’s annual fundraiser event. It was full of great wildlife information about what the Patuxent Research Refuge has been doing throughout many years in our area. The first thing all saw as they approached the visitor center on this beautiful spring day was a family of timber wolves located a short distance from the entrance. The male and female wolves were there with their four pups playing around their feet, much like the human families who visit here year after year. These intriguing wild wolves, of course, are depicted in the beautifully bronzed sculpture Timber Wolf Family created by sculptor William H. Turner and were very generously donated by Dorothy R. Blair to the wildlife center in 1997.
The attendees then entered the visitor center through its double-door entrances with recently installed, exciting window graphics across the doors and all the large, glass front windows with many forms of wildlife displayed on them. These were all done for a very important purpose: to protect our beautiful and treasured wildlife birds from colliding into the clear glass, which the birds cannot see as glass, and dying from their injuries. Artist Lynne Parks* along with artist Chris Siron had designed the silhouette images, and the Beltsville visual communications firm of Jay Williams Design Company had them printed and installed. For more about this, see the article at the very informative The Beltsville News Archives (www.beltsvillenewstoday.com/archives). Select the 2017 September issue and go to page two.
Inside the spacious exhibit hall, among all the many intriguing wildlife displays and demonstrations, live music by the band Chuggalug could be heard emanating from the lakeside, open-air, outdoor patio. Attendees enjoyed the many tables, attended by informative, knowledgeable, and friendly staff and The Friends of Patuxent volunteers. Those tables were interspersed with many types of great, delicious foods and desserts. There were also a fundraising auction, outdoor 30-minute tram rides, door prizes, and the more permanent exhibits to see. Maryland Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford as well as former Maryland Governor Parris Glendening were there to enjoy all there was to see and learn along with everyone else and met scientists, wildlife researchers, wildlife staffers, and other attendees.
Brad Knudsen, the refuge manager stated, “I really appreciate the wonderful work The Friends of Patuxent did to put on this event by setting up great informational tables about all sorts of wildlife categories and about our amazing research efforts throughout the Patuxent Research Refuge, and I look forward to encouraging more visitors to spend more time in our great outdoors and make it become a habit.”
Upon leaving the event, the attendees received generous goody bags and a potted milkweed or coneflower plant to help attract butterflies and bees to their gardens. Many businesses generously donated services, auction items, and products. A great time was had by all.
Be on the lookout for this great annual fundraiser next spring and for all their other programs and major events happening throughout the year at the Visitor Center**. You can help their efforts by joining The Friends of Patuxent*** for a full year for only $25 or $35 for a family. You can also lend a hand by purchasing great wildlife items at the visitor center’s store. Your purchases help to support the activities of The Friends of Patuxent with their missions to provide programs of the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and Patuxent Research Refuge.
*Lynne Parks is also a writer, freelance curator, and the outreach coordinator for Lights Out Baltimore (www.lightsoutbaltimore.org). She helps to monitor downtown Baltimore for bird and building collisions and transports injured birds to a wildlife rehabilitator. Her advocacy encourages community involvement in her projects with an emphasis on education and solutions. **National Wildlife Visitor Center. 301-497-5580 / 301-4978-5763 www.patuxent.fws.gov.
***The Friends of Patuxent. Check out all their programs throughout the year at 301.497.5789 or www.friendsofpatuxent.org.