By: Tom Fink | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: August 2019
Conservation efforts of the Sutton Center are spread to the younger generation through education programs, at which, students get the opportunity to see a live Bald Eagle – a species which the center helped to thrive in the state of Oklahoma.
Since its inception, the George Miksch Sutton Aviation Research Center’s mission has been to achieve two things: conservation and education.
However, for one evening this August, the center will aspire to one more goal: fermentation.
Wild Brew, a one-of-a-kind event, will be held in Tulsa in an evening which combines Tulsa’s best restaurants with first-rate beers made by artisan brewers from Oklahoma and across the U.S. in a fundraiser to benefit the center’s mission to protect indigenous Oklahoma birds and educate the public about the importance of conservation.
“The annual fundraiser supports the Sutton Center in Bartlesville,” Said Audra Fogle, Sutton Center director of development. “The center is an internationally-recognized, nonprofit wildlife conservation organization.”
Wild Brew will give attendees access to 200 beers from Tulsa’s best breweries at a craft beer tasting and restaurant crawl to benefit the efforts of the Sutton Aviation Research Center.
Funding from this year’s annual craft beer festival, Wild Brew, will aid the crew at Sutton, currently engaged in recovery efforts for two of the rarest birds in North America -- the Attwater’s Prairie-Chicken, and the Masked Bobwhite, both of which are endangered species.
Wild Brew 2019 will feature hundreds of beers to choose from, and the unique opportunity for guests to chat with brewers one-on-one. Music from Midlife Crisis Band will keep the evening hopping, along with silent auction packages featuring autographed sports memorabilia, custom brewery tours, trips and much more.
Additionally, guests will also get to be up close and personal with some special feathered friends.
“For Wild Brew’s 21st year a variety of birds will be coming to meet guests,” Fogle said. “The Sutton Center is grateful for the support of the brewers, restaurants, and everyone who will be coming out for Wild Brew -- the ‘greatest party ever hatched.”
Open to general admission ticket holders at 5 p.m., patron ticket holders can start sipping early at 4 p.m. and have their own plush area to perch during the event.
“Every ticket includes all-inclusive access to more than 200 beers from Tulsa’s best breweries and samples from 50 of Tulsa’s best restaurants,” she said.
But for all the craft beers, restaurants, live music and more to be had at Wild Brew, the true winner of the evening is the center.
Celebrating its 35th year of bird conservation, the Sutton Center has numerous significant conservation projects under its belt, most notably, bringing the Bald Eagle back from the brink of extinction, back to Oklahoma and this part of the country.
“Because of the center’s work, the (Bald) Eagle came off the endangered species list,” she said. “We continue to monitor and track Bald Eagles across the state of Oklahoma and have watched those populations continue to rise to the point that eagles are now thriving in Oklahoma.”
Through tracking information provided by monitors called the Bald Eagle Survey Team, or BEST, Oklahoma’s confirmed Bald Eagle population has grown to more than a robust 200 nests around the state, many of which can be traced back to their release from the center.
“Because of the success with the eagles, we’re better-known nationally and even internationally than we are here in the state,” Fogle said. “We continue to monitor (eagles) to make sure they’re doing well, and we work with developers to help them make better choices.
“In our mission statement, we describe ourselves as a cooperative conservation organization,” she continued. “We try to work with as many businesses and organizations as we can because we truly believe we accomplish more if we work together.
“Also an important part of what we do is education because, without education, all the conservation in the world doesn’t matter,” she said. “People need to know what’s going on in the world around them and why, especially with children.”
To this end, the center engages volunteers, citizen and professional scientists, conservationists and others, and provides hands-on educational opportunities.
“When asked, we speak to children’s groups,” she said. “One of our premier projects is the Sutton Award, which is a statewide art show. It’s a statewide art scholarship program, and we give up to $20,000 to students in art programs in high school. The way that this fits in with our mission is that it helps students to tell the conservation story through art and essay. Not only does this affirm students, but it gets them interested in and excited about conservation matters – it gets them talking at home, in the classroom, etc.”
Wild Brew 2019: Benefiting the George Miksch Sutton Avian Research Center will be held 5-8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24, at the Cox Business Center in Tulsa.
Tickets are tax-deductible and available at www.wildbrew.org.
The Sutton Center’s commitment to the conservation of rare birds includes the Masked Bobwhite, which the center is working to aid in their recovery.