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St. Teresa's students get up close and personal with wildlife

Georgia Southern University’s Center for Wildlife Education Director Steven Hein, left, tells students from St. Teresa’s School to open their eyes after he laid a 13-foot long Burmese Python in their arms on Friday. Hein has made these presentations at schools all over Southwest Georgia for the past seven years in an attempt to teach students about the wonder of wildlife.

Georgia Southern University’s Center for Wildlife Education Director Steven Hein, left, tells students from St. Teresa’s School to open their eyes after he laid a 13-foot long Burmese Python in their arms on Friday. Hein has made these presentations at schools all over Southwest Georgia for the past seven years in an attempt to teach students about the wonder of wildlife.

ALBANY, Ga. -- The Center for Wildlife Education visited St. Teresa's School Friday, part of the center's annual visits to southwest Georgia school.

Center Director Steven Hein's road show brought hawks, owls, a bald eagle, a corn snake and Asian cockroaches to give students close looks at creatures most had never before seen

Up until the very end of Heim's presentation, a 6-inch tall Screech Owl had been the hit of the day -- that was until he brought out the big gun.

Asking for teachers to select seven students, Hein lined them up three in front, four in back and asked them to hold out their arms and close their eyes.

That's when Hein laid a 13-foot Burmese Python in their arms. The gym erupted in a mixture of laughter and horror.

"We've been doing this for the past seven years all over southwest Georgia," Hein said."We visit four different schools each year. We hope the children will bond with the wildlife, which we regard as ambassadors to help educate the kids in the wonder of wildlife."

The Center's School visits are underwritten by the Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District.

"That big snake really scared me," fourth-grader Collins Giovingo said. "It was huge and it freaked me out!"

Lacey Coleman, an eighth-grader, was a little more laid back in her assessment of the presentation.

"I enjoyed it. I think getting out the word on animal awareness is a good thing," Coleman said. "The Bald Eagle ("Freedom") was kinda cool and I thought the Burmese Python had pretty skin."

Hein said the presentations are always a big hit with the kids.

"I think it pulls them back into reality a bit," he said. "It lets them know there are other creatures in the world besides themselves."