BLACKSBURG, Va., Sept. 16, 2003 – After the death of a 1977 wildlife graduate, John Griffiths, a unique collection of mounted ducks was donated to the College of Natural Resources in his memory. Located in the College of Natural Resources on the first floor of Cheatham Hall at Virginia Tech, the collection of ducks not only have become a star attraction but they are also used to educate students about the various types of wild ducks.
"The display is one of the central centerpieces of what visitors and students notice and talk about," said Don Orth, department head of fisheries and wildlife sciences. "Every student does not have the opportunity to see these kinds of ducks in the wild, so having them here for students to study is a wonderful resource."
"It's like working with real animals," explained Carola Haas, associate professor of fisheries and wildlife sciences. "They are used as a hands-on learning tool, helping students identify different features of a duck." The duck display is also used for events within the college including the Farm and Family Showcase, 4-H events and local educational programs.
Haas described the ducks as taxidermic mounts. "Today there are a limited number of people who continue to make taxidermic mounts. It is a real valuable art and the duck display is something that would be hard to replace."
John Griffiths, the former student whom the display honors, died in October 2000 after a long battle of brain cancer at his home in McLean. Griffiths had a passion for the wildlife including hunting, fishing and waterfowl. Griffiths' brother Rick Griffiths, a forestry graduate of 1978, is a photographer for Virginia Tech's University Relations Department.
Written by Meredith Long, Public Affairs Intern