Students use classroom experience to assist local organization

Tuskegee, a red-tail hawk, enters his traveling cage.
Tuskegee, a red-tail hawk, enters his traveling cage with the assistance of Judy Loope.

Radford University students in a graphic design course are earning real-world experience with a client of the animal variety.

The Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center of Roanoke teamed up with Graphic Design Assistant Professor John O’Connor’s class to design, develop and create new logos, branding and signage. Judy Loope, the center’s director of Education, visited the class to discuss the center’s needs and wants for the rebranding.

Loope also brought an ambassador with her – a Red-tail Hawk called Tuskegee. Tuskegee was received by the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center of Roanoke from the Virginia Department of Fish and Games after being confiscated from an owner who kept him in a cage, illegal under Virginia law. Tuskegee visited the class to provide inspiration and knowledge for the upcoming project.

“I want them to stretch their creative minds and learn how to work with a client,” Loope said. “I want students to gain real-world experience and what to expect when working with a client.”

The Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center of Roanoke is a state and federally licensed rehabilitation facility that offers care and treatment to animals in the New River and Roanoke valleys and the surrounding areas since 2000. The center sees more than 1100 cases each year –1759 patients on 2017 alone – with a strong emphasis on birds. Intake animals include raptors, waterfowl and migratory birds, among others.

Students get an up-close view of Tuskegee.
Students get an up-close view of Tuskegee.

The center utilizes the soft release technique, in which animals gradually acclimate to foraging methods before final release into the wild. In some cases, certain species are transferred to areas with a thriving population of that species with adequate resources.

The diverse portfolio of the center offers a challenge for the students, who must find a way to visually represent everything that the center does.

Candice Tunstall, of Fredericksburg, said that she wants to create two primary images for the project.

“I want to do at least one-text heavy message and another that is mostly an image. What makes a logo sometimes is the image that you bring to the table,” she said. “On the center’s web page, they have a picture of someone holding a little bird and I want to somehow simplify that into a logo, either a wrapped bird with a heart inside its chest or a simplified holding of a baby raptor. That way it exhibits the love they have for these animals.”

The project also gives the students professional experience working with a client, something that Guy Smith, of Roanoke, and Tunstall said would enhance their Radford education.

Smith said that working with the center gives him real-world experience and would also “help the community and help the center be more noticeable.”

Tunstall said that this is different than working with an on-campus client.

“This is a completely outside source coming in and asking us for real work,” she said. “They want to use our work as their actual logo. It’s an actual job and it gets you ready for real clients and helps you understand that clients don’t necessarily know what they want.”

Nov 27, 2017
Max Esterhuizen