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RE: Teaching about herps in school?

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Posted by: rugbyman2000 at Sat Feb 14 08:00:14 2009  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by rugbyman2000 ]  
   

Great post. You're a young man after my own heart. I was also homeschooled for several years (and I have several younger friends who are still homeschooled, even though I'm 27 now). Many of my younger friends do what I did, which is starting with any reptile presentations they can. This includes doing demonstrations for churches, home-school co-op groups, youth groups, scouts, or any clubs they can find. It is great to start doing talks in a few different settings to develop your presentation and have a few talks on your "resume" when you approach schools. It may be hard to approach schools with an informal program without knowing anyone. But if you have a friend who is a teacher, that would be a great place to start. Many teachers are glad to have a visitor fill 30 or 60 minutes of their day with an interesting topic.

I have gone from doing free talks to building a more formal rescue and education group over the years, and now my full time job is visiting schools and other groups for herp education. We actually do hundreds of outreach programs each year and it's a great career! You can feel free to borrow some of our lesson ideas at www.forgottenfriend.org/afterschool. For our aftereschool programs we actually keep the herp lessons low key and incorporate more games and activities, and reptile story books which encourage literacy, which is always a plus at schools. For our regular programs (www.forgottenfriend.org/learn) we include about 15 reptiles from many habitats and and continents.

A great beginner lesson can include asking students to name the four families of reptiles. I usually start with easy questions and ask them to say YES or NO if an animal is a reptile. Give them a couple easy ones like horse, chicken, cow, then throw in FROG and see what happens. Then you can separate amphibians and reptiles and get them to name of snakes, lizards, turtles, and crocs. It is just one of the most basic starting points and it helps students and teachers give a more firm understanding of the basics.

The longer I do programs the less I do "hands-on" time with the reptiles. As much as I would love to let everyone hold every reptile, liability just does not allow it. So you may want to allow everyone to see all of your animals, but only hold one or two species, like corn snakes, or others with no claws. Even leopard geckos, which seem harmless, may not be the best to let young children handle since they are easy to drop or squeeze too hard. An alternative is to let kids pass around small reptiles while they are still in their containers.

Well I think I've gone on long enough. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Herp awareness is better than ever, but we will always be fighting a losing P.R. battle with reptiles, so we need as many educators out there as possible! Keep up the good work.

jesse
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Jesse Rothacker
Forgotten Friend Reptile Sanctuary
www.forgottenfriend.org


   

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