“I Gave Eight”
By Lilibeth Serrano, Public Affairs Specialist, USFWS Caribbean Ecological Services Field Office
Kids love animals…specially real ones. “Is that turtle alive?’, “Can I touch that skull?” “Are those turtle eggs for real?” “Can those insects bite me?” These were some of the questions that my son’s classmates, curious and intense 5-6 year olds asked me and my husband, when we visited them to complement their 1st grade animal science curriculum with conservation messages about local and endangered fauna.
I prepared for the event by gathering a collection of specimens borrowing pieces from coworkers in the office. I had a collection of local insects, two green sea turtles, leatherback turtle eggs and neophytes in jars, an exotic monkey scull, several bird skulls, a roseate tern wood carving with a real egg, and a sculpture of Puerto Rican crested toads mounted on karst rock.
At first, some of the kids wrestled with attraction and repulsion, wanting to touch but scared to see some of these creatures for the first time. We explained how it was safe to touch and that all these animals, with the exception of the monkey, were endemic to Puerto Rico and special because only a few are left in the wild. I spoke while my husband passed the animals around the room, giving the kids a chance to touch, smell and feel everything in display.
We left the school very satisfied for teaching the kids about the importance of biodiversity, that everything counts and the need to keep wild populations in the wild and not as pets. Now when the kids see me in school, they call me the “animal teacher”. What a great honor. I gave eight hours of work away from the office and got plenty more in return.
Photos album at http://goo.gl/EMYIY
Note: "I Gave Eight" is an FWS initiative promoting staff voluntary involvement in outreach activities at the community level.