Jonesboro School students welcome unique visitors

Why does a snake have a forked tongue?

How can a person tell a venomous snake from a non-venomous snake?

Those mysteries and many others were answered Wednesday, Nov. 28, when snakes "invaded" Jonesboro Elementary School.

The school welcomed a variety of live specimens inside their classrooms, where students got an up-close and personal look at the snakes of Illinois.

The program was sponsored by Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge and Friends of the Cache River Watershed.  

AmeriCorps members Margaret Anderson, Jodie Delaney and Chelsea DeVivo performed demonstrations and presented educational programs to students ranging in age from pre-kindergarten to 4th grade.

The students literally gained firsthand knowledge through their hands-on learning experience.  

The program focused on snake adaptations and identification, as well as their crucial role in the ecosystem.

Emphasis was placed on identification of the three venomous snakes native to Southern Illinois, and participants were given the opportunity to safely view a live copperhead, cottonmouth and timber rattlesnake.  

Each student was also given the opportunity to handle non-venomous snakes.  

As some handled a snake for the first time in their lives, exclamations of “It’s not slimy!” or “This feels weird!” could be heard, along with giggles of nervous excitement.

To arrange for a snake invasion Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge staff members are available to come to visit area schools.

Teachers and students also are invited to take a field trip to the Cache River Wetlands for an introduction to even more species.

For more information, call 618-634-2231.

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        The Gazette-Democrat

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        Anna, Illinois 62906
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