The first two exhibits of the evolving West Virginia University Natural History Museum will be unveiled at a celebration Fri., Oct. 21, 6-8 p.m. in the lobby of Percival Hall on the Evansdale Campus.

The displays were made possible through a generous donation by Robert and Mary Lou Estler of more than 400 taxidermy mounts. Housed within the Division of Forestry and Natural Resources in the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, the Robert Estler Collection includes dozens of mammals, birds, insects, nests, reptiles and a taxidermy table.

Of the two completed exhibits, one will feature a display of waterfowl taxidermy mounts and wooden decoys. It will be dedicated to Ronald H. Fortney, former research professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at WVU. Fortney devoted his entire career to the conservation of West Virginia’s natural heritage and the education of students interested in the natural environment.

The other portrays a late 1700s trapper scene in the Appalachian Mountains and features a flintlock rifle built by Marvin Wotring Sr. of Morgantown. Voice narration for the exhibit was provided by Dave Samuel and Ed Michaels, former professors of WVU’s Wildlife and Fisheries Resources program.

WVU faithful may recognize Wotring, a 1965 graduate of the Davis College, as the man behind the Mountaineer mascot’s rifle. He has handcrafted several rifles for the mascots over the years.

“This celebration will allow us to introduce a relaxing environmental learning facility for students of all ages, as well as other public entities,” explained Ann Anderson, a wildlife biologist in the Davis College.

These exhibits are the first of what Anderson hopes will be a complete museum where those lifelong learners can study animals in their natural habitats, as well as West Virginia’s natural bounty of flora and fauna.

She also notes museum developers are currently seeking financial and public support to continue the dream of completing the exhibits to house the collection of donated wildlife taxidermy specimens.

The celebration is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be provided.

To learn more about the museum, visit http://wvnaturalhistory.wvu.edu/.

For more information on the event, contact Anderson at ann.anderson@mail.wvu.edu or 304-276-8950.

Gifts to the museum project are made through the WVU Foundation, the private, non-profit corporation that generates, receives and administers private gifts for the benefit of WVU.

-WVU-

law/10/19/11

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