Cool to be cold blooded

Bush Elementary students learn about scaly creatures native to Missouri

Will Pendleton, Jack Winterbower and C.J. Mullins smile and laugh as a Ouachita Map Turtle walks across the floor on Thursday during Bush Elementary’s after-school or BAC PAC program.

Will Pendleton, Jack Winterbower and C.J. Mullins smile and laugh as a Ouachita Map Turtle walks across the floor on Thursday during Bush Elementary’s after-school or BAC PAC program. Photo by Brittany Ruess.

Missouri Department of Conservation naturalist, Becky Matney, showed about 20 Bush Elementary students on Thursday three of Missouri's reptiles — the speckled king snake, five-lined skink (lizard) and Ouachita map turtle. Schools can request for the conservation department to visit their schools and teach students facts about Missouri wildlife.

Matney said children typically think of more exotic animals are special, but the program shows children they can find something interesting in their own backyards.

“This program opens their eyes to the unique animals we have in Missouri,” Matney said. She added that she hopes children walk away with a familiarity of reptiles and an exposure to the outdoors.

Linda Houston, member of the Fulton Garden Club, requested a naturalist to come speak to the children about a year ago. Houston visits BAC PAC once a month to teach children environmental sciences.

Houston said participating in Girl Scouts was her only opportunity to learn about environmental sciences as a child, and she wants children today to be able to respect nature to better care for the planet in the future.

"It's important to get kids out in nature," Houston said.

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