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Students get in touch with wild side

Third and fifth grade science students at Lamar Reese Magnet School for the Arts react as Lekesha Wilson displays ‘Corny’ the corn snake Tuesday during part of Chehaw Park’s “Education Migration” visits to the region’s schools. Chehaw Education Coordinator Jackie Entz said she takes animals to schools to help students better understand nature.

Third and fifth grade science students at Lamar Reese Magnet School for the Arts react as Lekesha Wilson displays ‘Corny’ the corn snake Tuesday during part of Chehaw Park’s “Education Migration” visits to the region’s schools. Chehaw Education Coordinator Jackie Entz said she takes animals to schools to help students better understand nature.

ALBANY — The students were fine until the corn snake came out. Then came the oohs, aahs and a mixture of revulsion, delight and outright curiosity.

Chehaw Education Coordinator Jackie Entz and assistant Lekesha Wilson were at Lamar Reese Magnet School of the Arts Tuesday, taking their Education Migration road show and accompanying menagerie to the school’s third and fifth grade science classes gathered in the school gymnasium.

Lentz, who makes approximately 50 to 60 school visits a year, brought with her a gopher turtle, a couple of flying squirrels, an opossum, a barn owl, a couple of rather large cockroaches and, of course, the orange and red corn snake, appropriately named Corny.

“One of my favorite things about these trips are the people who have never seen these animals up close,” Entz said. “At first they are a little apprehensive, but usually become brave enough to touch the animals. You can almost see that little light bulb go off in their heads.”

The idea, Lentz said, is to get the kids thinking about animals and how they figure into the planet’s circle of life.

“Once the kids touch the animals it creates a ripple effect and they seem to form a personal connection to the animals and to nature,” she said. “We hope it also makes them more environmentally conscious.”

Lamar Reese science teacher Philip Burns arranged the Education Migration visit.

“Most of these kids have never seen these animals this close,” Burns said, “and we hope this visit will help supplement the science learning for those who have not been exposed to many of the concepts we are teaching.”