VHS Educational Committee

Educational Posters | Educational Material | Herp Laws | GPS Information | VHS Brochure | Kids & Herpetology



VHS EDUCATION COMMITTEE REPORT for Oct. 2015 to Oct. 2016

Compiled by Mike Clifford (mjc4h@vt.edu), Education Committee Chairman.  VHS members are encouraged to submit a brief report their herp educational activities (local, regional, or state) to the VHS Education Committee.  We compile an annual report that includes your educational efforts on the behalf of the Virginia Herpetological Society. Those interested in serving on the Education Committee are invited to contact the chairman.

 

LIVE PRESENTATIONS AND EXHIBITIONS

Education of Master Naturalists: 

 

VHS members frequently serve as herpetology instructors and advisors for Virginia Master Naturalist programs and events around the state.  New master naturalist candidates in the 28 VMN chapters participate in a lengthy series of training sessions, typically including about three-hours of herpetology instruction.  Susan Watson and Larry Mendoza did a snake presentation on 11-11-15 for the Historic Rivers Master Naturalists in James City County.  Tim Christensen taught "Herpetology/Reptiles and Amphibians of Virginia" course for a new cohort of the Historic Rivers Chapter of the VA Master Naturalists program on 19 January 2016 consisting of 20 students.  On 2-16-16, Susan Watson taught the Herpetology class to the Historic Southside Master Naturalists in Isle of Wight County.  In coordination with VCU, Susan Watson trained Master Naturalists in vernal pool monitoring on February 20 and March 5th, 19th, and 26th in Charles City County.  On March 9th, Susan Watson gave a "Herps in the Garden" presentation to the Henrico Master Naturalists.  On March 10th, Susan Watson taught the Herpetology course to new Riverine Master Naturalists in Hanover County.  Mike Clifford taught the Herpetology class to about 30 new Pocahontas Chapter Master Naturalist trainees on April 2nd.  On April 9th, Susan Watson led a frog walk and talk for the Historic Southside Master Naturalists in Surry county.   Mike Clifford, Susan Watson, and Larry Mendoza led a herpetology field training and survey at Belmead Plantation for the James River Master Naturalist Chapter on June 18th in Powhatan County. 

 

Other Presentations and Exhibits:

 

A hands-on "Snakes Alive" show for about 90 kids and parents was presented by Mike Clifford at the February 28th, 2016 Virginia 4-H Natural Resources Weekend.  Herp programs featuring native species are a very popular at this statewide event, held every winter at Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center near Appomattox.  On March 30th, Susan Watson gave a snake presentation at the Williamsburg Montessori School.  On April 20th, Susan Watson gave a snake presentation at the Williamsburg Chesterfield Innovative Academy for Girls.  Temple Moore presented "Amphibians of the Middle Peninsula" at the Gloucester County Library.  The session lasted 1.5 hours and was attended by 31 adults and one child.  On April 30th, Susan Watson operated an exhibit at the Friends of the Lower Appomattox River (FOLAR) RiverFest, at Appomattox Riverside (Ferndale) Park, in Dinwiddie County.  The DGIF exhibit included VHS brochures, live snakes, display copies of guides (snake, turtle, and frog & toad), as well as other informational handouts on herps.  On August 9, Suzie Gilley and Susan Watson taught a workshop to 1st and 2nd grade teachers at the Math & Science Center, just outside Richmond, in Henrico County.  Instruction included using the DGIF snakes for exhibit and presentation, as well as taking the group outside to explore the outside pond and natural area with dip nets and containers to help exhibit any finds.  Bonnie Keller and Mark Khosravi did a program on Aug 14 for the National Park Service at Prince William Forest Park. They took 2 copperheads and a corn snake, along with equipment and trained the 15 or so rangers that came that day on how to use tongs and hooks to move snakes, as well as how to ID a copperhead. Bonnie Keller has critters in her classroom all year, and tells the kids about VHS. She sponsors the school's Reptile Club, and students have already used the VHS website to ID a snake one girl found last week. Bonnie also did a program over the summer for a daycare in Prince William.  On August 17, Anne Wright (VCU) and Susan Watson met with and instructed National Park Service staff about vernal pool habitats on their property at the Petersburg National Battlefield Park.  

 

WEB-BASED PUBLIC EDUCATION

 

The VHS website and the Facebook page continue to serve as the leading public information sources concerning the state's native reptiles and amphibians.   Our herp identification and information service for the general public is heavily utilized.  Visitors to the VHS website are directed to submit their questions and photos to:  animal-id@vaherpsociety.com .  We have processed approximately 800 identification and information requests in the past year.  Most of the requests are from Virginia, but some are from other states and even from other countries.  A recent lizard identification request came from Malaysia.  From the numerous thank-you replies that we receive, the service seems to be truly appreciated.  Plus, we frequently benefit from some interesting and usable photos.  Several of the photos submitted have turned out to be new county distribution records.

 

An unusually large number of the photo ID and information requests this past year involved the Northern Copperhead in home landscapes, a potentially dangerous situation.  In response, Mike Clifford developed a single page flyer titled Safety Precautions in Copperhead Country which has been attached to email correspondence and posted on the VHS website.  Another frequent topic this year concerned the observation of nest-building turtles in backyards and techniques to protect these nests.  A brief fact sheet is needed to address these questions.

 

 

DISSEMINATION OF EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS

 

During the 2015 VHS Fall Meeting presentations, we discussed the problem of educating Virginia's anglers and hunters regarding the unwarranted killing of snakes, which many folks did not know was illegal   It was suggested that existing annual DGIF publications would be an ideal medium for reaching these many thousands of outdoor enthusiasts, since these booklets are available free at sporting goods counters throughout the state.  As a result, thanks to J.D. Kleopfer, snake protection information was added to Freshwater Fishing & Boating in Virginia (p.23; January 1 – December 31, 2016) and to Hunting & Trapping in Virginia (p.21; July 2016 – June, 2017).

 

The VHS responded to a variety of requests for photographs and other images, posters, and other herpetological material.  Recipients included: 


 

VHS EDUCATION COMMITTEE REPORT for Oct. 2014 to Oct. 2015

Compiled by Mike Clifford (mjc4h@vt.edu), Education Committee Chairman.  VHS members are encouraged to submit a brief report their herp educational activities (local, regional, or state) to the VHS Education Committee.  We compile an annual report that includes your educational efforts on the behalf of the Virginia Herpetological Society. Those interested in serving on the Education Committee are invited to contact the chairman.

 

LIVE PRESENTATIONS AND EXHIBITIONS

Education of Master Naturalists: 

 

VHS members frequently serve as herpetology instructors and advisors for Virginia Master Naturalist programs and events around the state.  New master naturalist candidates in the 30 VMN chapters participate in a lengthy series of training sessions, typically including about three-hours of herpetology instruction.  Paul Sattler gave a talk on 12 November 2014 to the Central Virginia Master Naturalist group.  The presentation was on the snakes of central Virginia and about 15 attended.  On February 24th, Mike Clifford taught the 3-hour herpetology class for the VMN Central Piedmont Chapter.  March 14, 21, 22, April 11, & May 30, 2015: Susan Watson co-taught, with Anne Wright (VCU) & Lee Hesler (Master Naturalist) training classes for the Vernal Pool Cooperative of Virginia project. Participants were Master Naturalists interested in learning about vernal pools and what they can do to help locate, identify, monitor, and share data on vernal pools on public lands in their respective areas.  These classes were held at the VCU Rice Rivers Center in Charles City County, except for the last class in May, which was at Sky Meadows State Park, in Fauquier County. March 28, 2015:  Susan Watson led a small herp field trip for Historic Southside Chapter of VA Master Naturalists, at Chippokes State Park, in Surry County. March 31 & April 23, 2015: Susan Watson taught Herpetology courses to the Historic Southside Chapter (Isle of Wight County) and Riverine Chapter (Hanover County), respectively, of the Virginia Master Naturalist Program.  These courses were for their new recruit classes.  Mike Clifford taught a herpetology class and field trip for the Pocahontas Chapter in the Chesterfield area on April 4, 2015.  Tim Christensen presented "Herpetology/Reptiles and Amphibians of Virginia" to the new cohort class of the Tidewater Chapter of Virginia Master Naturalists on May 18, 2015 for 15 students.  July 10, 2015:  Susan Watson co-taught a course, with Carol Heiser (DGIF), to Master Naturalists about frogs and habitats at home or in the community for frogs.  Course was held in Augusta County at the county's government center.

 October 20, 27, & November 3, 2014: Susan Watson co-taught a class on Reptiles & Amphibians of Southeastern Virginia with Tim Christensen (and help from Chris Petersen & J.D. Kleopfer) for the Christopher Wrenn Association at the College of William & Mary, in Williamsburg.  The course was for members of the association, and was held on 3 Monday afternoons, in late October into early November, 2014.

Other Presentations and Exhibits:

 

Temple Moore presented "Amphibians and Reptiles of the Northern Neck" at the Heathsville Library on November 12, 2014. The session lasted almost two hours and was attended by about 40 people, all adults. He borrowed a corn snake from VDGIF which was a great help in getting people to understand more about the reptiles of the area.

A hands-on "Snakes Alive" show for about 80 kids and parents was presented by Mike Clifford at the Jan. 25, 2015 Virginia 4-H Natural Resources Weekend.  Herp programs featuring native species are a very popular at this statewide event, held every January at Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center near Appomattox.

Feb. 14, 2015:  Susan Watson worked DGIF exhibit at the Virginia Living Museum's Reptile Weekend (Reptiles Bizarre & Beautiful) event, in Newport News.  

April 25, 2015:  Susan Watson worked DGIF exhibit at Friends of the Lower Appomattox River (FOLAR) RiverFest, at Appomattox Riverside (Ferndale) Park, in Dinwiddie County.

Temple Moore gave a talk on "Northern Neck Snakes" to the Rural Living 4-H Club in Warsaw on July 20th.  There were 24 folks present, about 2/3 were 4-H members and the rest were parents of the kids.  The talk lasted about an hour and was a PowerPoint supplemented with a live animal from VADGIF.

August 20, 2015: Mike Clifford presented a required "snake safety" class in Waynesboro for a Virginia Power landscape crew that will be working in Shenandoah National Park.  The session focused on how to avoid bites from rattlesnakes and copperheads while landscaping the power-line right-of-way.

Bonnie Keller of Virginia Reptile Rescue reported these programs this year: 2 Programs for a summer day camp in Nokesville, VA; 1 program for a summer day camp in Woodbridge, VA; 1 program for the Rotary Club in Sumerduck, VA (for VHS); 1 program at Lockheed Martin in Manassas, VA (for VHS); 1 exhibit at Nature Fest in Herndon, VA; 1 birthday party in Nokesville, VA; 1 exhibit in Warrenton, VA.

 I also have a semi-permanent exhibit in my classroom in Fairfax, VA.

 

Caroline Seitz reported that from September 30 2014 through October 1 2015, Reptiles Alive LLC presented 706 educational programs to approximately 52,880 people. She also performed a program for DC Animal Services without charging. This is a free service RA offers to help educate animal first responders about herps. 

WEB-BASED PUBLIC EDUCATION

 

The VHS website and the Facebook page continue to serve as the leading public information sources concerning the state's native reptiles and amphibians.   Our herp identification and information service for the general public is heavily utilized.  Visitors to the VHS website are directed to submit their questions and photos to:  animal-id@vaherpsociety.com .  From the numerous thank-you replies that we receive, the service seems to be truly appreciated.  Plus, we frequently benefit from some interesting and usable photos, along with the occasional new county distribution record, such as the recent Eastern Cottonmouth photos from Brunswick county.  We have processed approximately 690 identification and information requests in the past year.

 


 

VHS EDUCATION COMMITTEE REPORT for Oct. 2013 to Oct. 2014

Compiled by Mike Clifford (mjc4h@vt.edu), Education Committee Chairman.  VHS members are encouraged to submit a brief report their herp educational activities (local, regional, or state) to the VHS Education Committee.  We compile an annual report that includes your educational efforts on the behalf of the Virginia Herpetological Society. Those interested in serving on the Education Committee are invited to contact the chairman.

 

LIVE PRESENTATIONS AND EXHIBITIONS

Education of Master Naturalists:  VHS members frequently serve as herpetology instructors and advisors for Virginia Master Naturalist programs and events around the state.  New master naturalist candidates in the 29 VMN chapters participate in a lengthy series of training sessions, typically including about three-hours of herpetology instruction.  On Feb. 20, 2014, Susan Watson taught a class on Virginia's Reptiles to the Riverine Chapter of VA Master Naturalists, as part of new recruits' basic training.  Tim Christensen presented "Herpetology/Reptiles and Amphibians of Virginia" to the new cohort class of the Tidewater Chapter of Virginia Master Naturalists on March 31, 2014, for 23 people.  Rachel Goodman was set to do a class for the Allegheny Highlands chapter, but the course was cancelled.  Mike Clifford taught a session for the Pocahontas Chapter in the Chesterfield area on April 15th.   Paul Sattler taught a class on amphibians for 20 trainees in the Central Virginia Chapter on October 1st, 2014.  As part of the 2013 VMN state conference, Susan Watson and Mike Clifford led a herp field trip on October 20th at Pocahontas State Park. 

A hands-on "Snakes Alive" show for a hundred kids and parents was presented by Mike Clifford at the Jan. 26, 2014 Virginia 4-H Natural Resources Weekend.  Herp programs featuring native species are a very popular at this statewide event, held every January at Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center near Appomattox.

February 8 and March 1, 2014, Susan Watson co-led (with Anne Wright of VCU) training sessions for groups of VA Master Naturalists from  many Chapters, who were starting on projects to identify and monitor vernal pools.  Susan led the discussions on identification of VA's anurans during these trainings, held at the VDGIF Rice Center/Region 1 Office, in Charles City County.

On Mar. 26, 2014, Susan Watson co-taught snake classes, with VDGIF staff and snakes, to groups of middle school students at Thomas Hunter Middle School, in Mathews County, VA.

Bonnie Keller reports that Virginia Reptile Rescue did two programs in July for Kid's Club in Nokesville and one for Chesterfield Academy Daycare.  Also one is scheduled on 10/11/14 for Fauquier County Parks and Rec.  Bonnie also serves as advisor for the Lanier Middle School Reptile Club, which meets twice a month, Oct-May.

Tim Christensen delivered a presentation on snakes for 82 adults and children at the Kirkwood Presbyterian Church Vacation Bible School in Yorktown on July 30, 2014.   The presentation discussed snake ecology and identification in the local area.

 

On Sept. 7, 2014, Susan Watson co-taught (with J.D. Kleopfer, state herpetologist) a short class on Virginia's snakes and the state endangered canebrake rattlesnake to a neighborhood group in Suffolk, VA.  This was done in response to an incident a few days earlier where a rattlesnake needed to be removed from under a resident's deck in the neighborhood.  This event was very well received.  Residents left with a better understanding about these species, and were provided several handouts pertaining to snakes and other Virginia herpetofuana, including snake guides and VHS brochures.

 

Susan Watson and Tim Christensen taught a course entitled "Reptiles and Amphibians of Southeast Virginia" for the Christopher Wren Assocation at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg through three 2-hour periods October 21, October 27 and November 3, 2014.  31 students attended.
 

Tim Christensen taught the course "Herpetology/Reptiles and Amphibians of Virginia" for the new Historic Rivers Chapter cohort of the Virginia Master Naturalist program on October 28, 2014.  24 students attended.

 

WEB-BASED PUBLIC EDUCATION

 

The VHS website and the Facebook page continue to serve as the leading public information sources concerning the state's native reptiles and amphibians.   Last April, a web site record was set at with 4.99 million hits. The VHS Facebook page has also a popular (2400 "likes").   Our herp identification and information service for the general public is heavily utilized.  Visitors to the VHS website are directed to submit their questions and photos to:  animal-id@vaherpsociety.com .  From the numerous thank-you replies that we receive, the service seems to be truly appreciated.  Plus, we frequently benefit from some interesting and usable photos, along with the occasional new county distribution record.  We have processed approximately 620 ID and information requests so far during 2014.

 

The latest addition to the VHS website's Education Department is the new section on Herp Diseases and Disinfection Protocols.  Other sections include education committee reports, educational materials, Virginia herp laws, "Kids & Herpetology", GPS information, VHS brochures, Virginia maps, and book recommendations.

 

 

HERP PHOTOS PROVIDED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES

 

09/11/14 - The VHS supplied photos to The Nature Conservancy "Year of the Salamander" website and FaceBook page.

08/27/14 - Supplied Greg Zell with herp photos to train naturalists.

08/15/14 - Supplied Petersburg National Battlefield an Amphiuma photo.

06/15/14 - Supplied the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with a Red-backed Salamander photo.

07/08/14 - Supplied Rex Springston with Cottonmouth/ Northern Watersnake comparison photo for newspaper article.

06/12/14 - Supplied Goochland County with several herp images for park signs.

05/07/14 - Supplied Horsepen Run Nature Preserve with photos.

05/01/14 - Supplied Hiram College Biology Department with photos.

04/30/14 - Supplied Bullfrog photos to the Association of Wetland Stewards for Clayoquot and Barkley Sounds.

04/08/14 - Supplied Cumberland River Compact/The Nature Conservancy of TN with a Hellbender photo.

04/04/14 - Supplied the State University of New York - College of Environmental Science and Forestry with photos.

03/16/14 - Supplied Friends of Tom's Creek with Spadefoot photo.

03/04/14- Supplied Blue & Gray Magazine (Vol.XXX#5) - "Snakebites to soldiers during the Civil War" w/ snake photos.

02/21/14 - Supplied Dutch website with Northern Red-bellied Cooter with photo.

02/20/14 - Supplied the Philippines with turtle photos for an educational booklet (hopefully not a cookbook!).

12/30/13 - Supplied photos for a "Wildlife First Response" class.

Ongoing - The VHS supplies the Virginia State Park Facebook page with photos for their trivia /ID posts.

 


 

VHS EDUCATION COMMITTEE REPORT for Oct. 2012 to Oct. 2013

Compiled by Mike Clifford (mjc4h@vt.edu), Education Committee Chairman

VHS members are encouraged to submit a brief report their herp educational activities (local, regional, or state) to the VHS Education Committee.  We compile an annual report that includes your educational efforts on the behalf of the Virginia Herpetological Society. Those interested in serving on the Education Committee are invited to contact the chairman.

 

LIVE PRESENTATIONS AND EXHIBITIONS

Training for Virginia Master Naturalists. VHS members frequently serve as herpetology instructors and advisors for Virginia Master Naturalist programs and events around the state.  New master naturalist candidates in the 29 VMN chapters participate in a lengthy series of training sessions, typically including three-hours of herpetology instruction.  Tim Christensen taught such a session for the Tidewater Chapter in Virginia Beach on May 6th.  Kory Steele taught the course for 30 people in the Peninsula Chapter on May 1st (Amphibians) and May 8th (Reptiles).  Mike Clifford taught herp sessions for the Central Piedmont Chapter in Farmville on March 13th and for the Pocahontas Chapter in the Chesterfield area on March 26th.   We also provided a PPT slide presentation and support materials to the Central Blue Ridge Chapter for their 2013 fall training.  As part of the 2013 VMN state conference, Susan Watson and Mike Clifford are scheduled to lead a herp field trip on October 20th at Pocahontas State Park.

On January 27, 2013, Mike Clifford presented "Snakes Alive" to about 100 youth and adults during the Virginia 4-H Natural Resources Weekend at Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center.  The presentation focused on the identification and natural history of common snakes native to Virginia.

 

Kory Steele gave a presentation about "Frog Calls" with live frogs at the Virginia Living Museum's "Reptiles, Bizarre and Beautiful" event on February 16th.  In addition, a VHS display was set up to promote VHS and to teach the public about differentiating venomous and non-venomous snakes.  At this same event, Michael Meyer presented "Looking for Luck: Local Adventures in Herpetology".  

Larry Mendoza hosted a VHS booth at Seldens Landing Elementary School on February 27 as part of the student's science fair activities.  It was the most popular booth; we exhibited native as well as exotic species of snakes.  Held discussions, took pictures with students and informed both students and parents of the work the VHS is doing.  Over one hundred students and parents stopped by the booth.

On Sunday March 3, Caroline Seitz presented "The Herps of Dyke Marsh Preserve" at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria VA.  This was a 2 hour program that covered the results of the May 2012 VHS Dyke Marsh Herp Survey along with the natural history of native herp species. Live animals including a snapping turtle, Eastern rat snake, American alligator, and crested gecko were included with the Powerpoint slide presentation.  The exotic animals were included at the request of the Friends of Dyke Marsh Preserve.  The program was attended by approximately 60 people - the room was at capacity and we had to turn people away.

 

David Perry handled the VHS exhibit which was a big hit at Riverfest 2013 on April 27th.

An estimated 1500 people participated in the event.  Riverfest's mission is to promote environmental conservation and watershed stewardship in the Shenandoah River Basin.

 

On April 27th in Amelia County, Mike Clifford and Paul Sattler presented a PPT slide show on Herp Defensive Behaviors and led a herp hike at Sailor's Creek Battlefield Historical State Park.  About 35 people participated, many of whom were Master Naturalists and their children.  The hike produced two rat snakes and a racer, plus some other sightings.

 

Kory Steele manned the VHS display and performed a presentation on Frog Calls at the Beaverdam Park in Gloucester,Va, on April 27 in support of the Park's spring festival and fundraiser.

 

Larry Mendoza reported that on May 11 we conducted a herp survey of the Janelia Farm Research Campus for employees as part of the Janelia Farm Nature Club that he started.  This has been an ongoing survey for two years.  About 30 people attended including children as young as 5 years old.  We found many species of snakes, turtles and lizards and will be writing about this and publishing it in Catesbeaina soon. 

 

During a VMN and 4-H sponsored day-camp, Mike Clifford led a herpetology field trip on June 25th at Bear Creek Lake State Park.  A calm & beautiful copperhead was the only snake encountered along the trail and the two dozen kids got a good look. 

In July, David Perry taught a group of 13 Youth Conservation Corps young women about herpetology and involved them in an on-going snake survey at the High Bridge State Park.  Photos and details are featured in the Summer 2013 VHS Newsletter.

 

Susan Watson (VDGIF and VHS) did a live snake program and general herp talk for the Lake Anna Garden Club during their monthly meeting on August 8th, held in Bumpass at the Lake Anna Fire and Rescue Department building.  Susan also did a live snake program for the Virginia Association of Volunteer Rescue Squads (VAVRS) Kids Camp Day at the Fredericksburg Expo and Conference Center on September 7th.  Handouts were provided at both events that included information on VHS as well as VDGIF and other herp resources.


More help needed.  During the past year, VHS received many other requests for presentations for which we were unable to find speakers, especially in the Charlottesville area.  Members who are interested in helping with presentations & exhibits are encouraged to contact the education committee chairman.

 

WEB-BASED PUBLIC EDUCATION

 

The VHS website continues to serve as the leading public information source concerning the state's native reptiles and amphibians.  We average a little over 1 million hits per month, with May and June having the most traffic.  Over 11.3 Million files, consisting of 1884.5 Terabytes of information, were transferred to users over the last 11 months.  The VHS website remains the top Google search result for the following queries: Virginia reptiles, Virginia amphibians, Virginia frogs, Virginia toads, Virginia salamanders, Virginia lizards, Virginia snakes & Virginia turtles. 

Our herp identification and information service for the general public is heavily utilized.  We received over 500 email requests during the past 12 months.  Visitors to the VHS website are directed to submit their questions and photos to:  animal-id@vaherpsociety.com .  The requests are processed by Kory Steele, John White, and/or Mike Clifford.  From the numerous thank-you replies that we receive, the service seems to be truly appreciated.  Plus, we frequently benefit from some interesting and usable photos, along with the occasional new county distribution record.  Kory Steele is keeping a detailed record of these ID communications.

 

Other than species identification, snake control in and around the home was probably the most frequent concern cited in the email correspondence.  On the flip side, we also received questions about improving backyard habitat for herps.  Protection of turtle nesting sites in the landscape was a particularly hot topic this year.  We also answered "urban legend" type questions regarding giant rattlesnakes, copperhead x blacksnake hybrids, and other mythological creatures.  "Poisonous water moccasins" in northern and western Virginia continued to be a major public concern!

 

The VHS website's Education section features a colorful new VHS Brochure.  Also new is a GPS Information section with instructional material for using the recently donated Garmin eTrex Legend GPS receivers.  Other pages include education committee reports, our regional herp posters, educational materials, Virginia herp laws and regulations, and a "Kids & Herpetology" section.                      

 

We frequently receive inquires from organizations and institutions seeking permission to use 

VHS content (photos, posters, PDF’s …etc.) for educational purposes.   During the past year,

we provided the following:

 

 

The VHS Facebook site (https://www.facebook.com/vaherpsociety) provides some great educational content.  The photographic herp identification and other quizzes are popular and entertaining.  Links are provided to important herp news and upcoming events.  Hundreds of great herp photos have been posted, along interesting comments and questions.  The email address of our VHS herp identification and information service is provided for the seeking assistance.

 


 

VHS EDUCATION COMMITTEE REPORT for Oct. 2011 to Oct. 2012


Compiled by Mike Clifford (mjc4h@vt.edu), Education Committee Chairman
VHS members are encouraged to submit a brief report their herp educational activities (local, regional, or state) to the VHS Education Committee.  We compile an annual report that includes your educational efforts on the behalf of the Virginia Herpetological Society. Those interested in serving on the Education Committee are invited to contact the chairman.

LIVE PRESENTATIONS AND EXHIBITIONS
Bill Feeney gave a presentation titled "Snakes of Central Virginia" to the Lake Monticello Owners Association in Fluvanna County on 10/26/11.   About 85 people were in attendance from 6 years old to 80. They were very concerned about being able to identify venomous snakes and reduce snake encounters.

Tim Christensen taught the "Herpetology/Reptiles and Amphibians of Virginia" block of instruction to a new Cohort of the Historic Rivers Chapter of the VA Master Naturalist Program. The 3-hour session was held 1/3/12 at the Human Services Building, Williamsburg. 20 attended. Topics covered included basics on herpetology, ecology, taxonomy, identification, sampling of some herp species in the Chapter's area of responsibility, threats and conservation.

Kory Steele gave a presentation about "Frog Calls" on 2/1/12 to 15 students in the marine science club at Booker T. Washington Middle School in Newport News. 

On Tuesday 2/21/2012, Jim Husband (VDGIF) and Susan Watson taught snake programs to many of the classes at the elementary school in Mathews County. We used all 4 of VDGIF's live snakes in these programs (kingsnake, ratsnake, cornsnake, and mole kingsnake).

On Thursday 3/1/2012, Susan Watson taught a course on Virginia's reptiles to the Riverine Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists, which was held in the Hanover County Social Services building near the town of Ashland. This course was part of the curriculum for the Basic Class that all participants in the Master Naturalists Program must take.

On 2/19/12, Kory Steele presented a program on frog calls at the Virginia living Museum, Newport News Virginia.  Approximately 20 people were in attendance

Mike Clifford presented a 3-hour session on "Reptiles and Amphibians of Virginia" as part of the training for 14 new Master Naturalists in the Pocahontas VMN Chapter (Chesterfield-Richmond) on 3/20/12.

Tim Christensen presented "Herpetology/Reptiles and Amphibians of Virginia" to 27 members of the new Virginia Master Naturalist cohort of the Tidewater Chapter on April 2, 2012 in Virginia Beach.

In May 2012, Bill Feeney prepared a poster on frog and toad behavior and identification for the Ivy Creek Natural Area in Charlottesville. Photos were provided by John White, Paul Sattler, and Jill Card."

"Snakes in the Landscape" was the topic for the 5/16/12 meeting of the Richmond Professional Grounds Management Society, presented by Mike Clifford.  This assortment of landscape professionals learned about the identification and proper handling of the snakes that they frequently encounter in their work.

On Monday, July 16th, Susan Watson brought 3 of VDGIF's live snakes for a program during Outdoor Exploration Week of the Summer Playground Program of the Colonial Heights Recreation & Parks Department. It was held at Lakeview Elementary School, with approximately 45 to 50 children, ranging in age from 6 to 12 years old, in attendance.  She and 2 VDGIF volunteers (Dean Miller and Jack Broadway), showed the eastern kingsnake, eastern ratsnake, and red cornsnake to participants, explaining as much information as I could about biology, legal protection, ecology, dispelling  myths, and the like. Susan also brought handouts with information on other useful resources (including VHS).

John White and Mike Clifford worked with the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden this past summer to develop educational signage regarding the snakes that are commonly encountered by the public along their trails.  The professionally produced "Snakes in the Garden" signs featured photographs and brief natural history information.

Temple Moore represented VHS with a table display and presentation at the Northern Neck Land Conservancy's "Boots and BBQ" event on 9/29/12 in Lancaster County.   "Snakes of the Northern Neck" was the focus, along with associated myths and superstitions.   John White and Mike Clifford provided material support.

VHS and the VIRGINIA STATE PARKS

We frequently receive requests for herpetology presentations at various Virginia State Parks.  Far too often, we are unable to find VHS volunteers willing and able to handle these requests.  In response, we tried a "train the trainer" approach.  Dave Perry, in coordination with park system leadership, organized a 1.5 hour VHS presentation to the Interpretive Managers (IM's) for Virginia State Parks on 5/16/12, at Douthat State Park.  Dr. Paul Sattler's presentation on Virginia Snakes and Proper Care for Captive Snakes was informative and well received.   In the Q&A session, there were some good suggestions for future cooperation.  One suggestion was for individual nearby VHS members to communicate directly with local IMs, so that future support could be more efficiently arranged.  As a result, several VHS volunteers were (and continue to be) recruited to "adopt" state parks in their region in order to provide herpetological support.

WEB-BASED PUBLIC EDUCATION

The VHS website continues to serve as the leading public information source concerning the state's native reptiles and amphibians.  The site hosted over one million 'hits" last May.  Our herp identification and information service for the general public is heavily utilized.  Visitors to the VHS website are directed to submit their questions and photos to:  animal-id@vaherpsociety.com .  The requests are processed by Kory Steele, John White, and/or Mike Clifford.  From the numerous thank-you replies that we receive, the service seems to be truly appreciated.  Plus, we frequently benefit from some interesting and usable photos, along with the occasional new county distribution record.  Kory Steele is keeping a detailed record of these ID communications.

The VHS website's Education section, in addition to education committee reports, includes pages about our regional herp posters, educational materials, Virginia herp laws and regulations, and a "Kids & Herpetology" section.

 


 

VHS EDUCATION COMMITTEE REPORT for Oct. 2010 to Oct. 2011

Compiled by Mike Clifford (mjc4h@vt.edu), Education Committee Chairman
VHS members are encouraged to submit a brief report their herp educational activities (local, regional, or state) to the VHS Education Committee.  We compile an annual report that includes your educational efforts on the behalf of the Virginia Herpetological Society. Those interested in serving on the Education Committee are invited to contact the chairman.

LIVE PRESENTATIONS
Tim Christensen presented “Snakes in the Grass and in the Garden” to members of the Williamsburg Botanical Gardens on October 23, 2010. Approximately 15 people attended.
Tim Christensen conducted a workshop in Williamsburg on "Conservation of Reptiles and Amphibians in Virginia" on November 6, 2010 for Virginia Master Naturalists (VMNs) from 12 chapters across the Commonwealth. Thirty-five participants represented the following VMN Chapters: Riverine (Ashland area), Northern Neck, Historic Rivers (Williamsburg-James City County-York County), Rivanna (Albemarle County), Fairfax (Fairfax County), Central Rappahannock (Fredericksburg), Central Piedmont (Cumberland County), Tidewater (Norfolk-VA Beach area), Eastern Shore, Alleghany (Douthat State Park area), Pocahontas (Chesterfield County) and Blue Ridge Foothills Foothills & Lakes (Rocky Mount area).

On January 4, 2011, Tim Christensen taught "Herpetology: Reptiles and Amphibians of Virginia" for the new Historic Rivers Chapter Cohort (Cohort V) of the VMN Program. About 18 individuals attended.

Mike Clifford presented "Reptiles and Amphibians of Virginia" as part of the training for 26 new Master Naturalists in the Pocahontas VMN Chapter (Chesterfield-Richmond) on February 15, 2011.

Kory Steele presented "Reptiles and Amphibians of Virginia" as part of the basic training for 20 new Master Naturalists in the Peninsula VMN Chapter on March 3, 2011.

On March 30, 2011, Larry Mendoza provided a herpetology presentation at Newton-Lee Elementary School in conjunction with their Science Fair.

On 7/12/11, Kory Steele provided a presentation for the Mathews Co Library on "Herp Defensive Behaviors".  Fifty-six kids were in attendance.

On October 10, 2011, Larry Mendoza gave a presentation to 10 employees of the Hughes Medical Institute Janelia Farm Research Campus in Ashburn Va.  He discussed differentiation between Virginia venomous and non-venomous species, as well as identification of some of the more frequently encountered harmless species.  Larry also discussed snake-bite first aid.

WEB-BASED PUBLIC EDUCATION

The VHS website has become the leading public information source concerning the state's native reptiles and amphibians.  Many thousands* of people use features such as the "identification guides",  the "look-alike guides", "county/city herp list", and especially  the photos, range maps, & links for all Virginia herp species, organized by taxonomic group.
*See http://www.virginiaherpetologicalsociety.com/traffic/vhs-webtraffic-oct2011.pdf
Our herp identification service for the general public is heavily utilized.  Visitors to the VHS website are directed to submit their questions and photos to:  animal-id@vaherpsociety.com .  The requests are processed by Kory Steele, John White, and/or Mike Clifford.  From the numerous thank-you replies that we receive, the service seems to be truly appreciated.  Plus, we frequently benefit from some interesting and usable photos, along with the occasional new county distribution record.  ID requests can also be channeled through the VHS Yahoo Group and Facebook sites.

The VHS website's Education page, in addition to education committee reports, includes:

Below is an email we received that is indicative of the value of our VHS website:

10/17/2011.  To whom it may concern, I stumbled across your website while looking for identification information on a snake my friend caught. Your website--particularly the pages comparing copperheads with other snakes--was extremely informative, and the best laid out of all the resources I encountered.  Thank you!- Tim K.

EXHIBITS, DISPLAYS, AND POWERPOINT PRESENTATIONS

VHS participated in the Reptile Weekend at the Virginia Living Museum on February 19-20, 2011.   Kory, Emily, Tim, and Craig manned the VHS herpetology exhibit.
With the help of Shea Warner, an educational poster was created showing the differences between venomous and non-venomous snakes.  Cost: $26
On April 23, 2011 Kory and Emily Steele participated in the Virginia Zoo's "Party for the Planet" exhibit.
A 30-slide PowerPoint presentation focusing on "Defensive Behaviors and Adaptations" of Virginia reptiles & amphibians is available from Mike Clifford.  Contact him at mjc4h@vt.edu .  The presentation
covers "Flight, Fright, Fight, Out-of-Sight, and Reproductive Might".

PowerPoint presentations & other educational materials have been created as part of an Amphibian and Reptile Conservation class at Davidson College taught by Dr. Michael E. Dorcas and modified with permission for Virginia by Mike Clifford. They have been designed for use by any individual interested in giving a presentation about amphibians and reptiles, or any educator looking to supplement their science curriculum. They cover information about the importance, biology, ecology, and conservation of amphibians and reptiles in Virginia. The PowerPoints have been designed to be age appropriate; and thus, four different presentations were created: one for lower elementary school, one for upper elementary school, one for middle school, and finally one for high school and adults. They vary in depth of understanding, detail, and vocabulary.  They are available on the VHS website, Education page.

PUBLIC MEDIA
An article on snakes was published in Virginia Living Magazine (5/11) featuring an interview with VHS president Kory Steel.
Kory Steele was contacted by Gracie Brooks with the Orange County Review newspaper about a residence that found a copperhead and claimed it was 50.5 inches long, which would be a Virginia state record.  Dan Shackleton, the person making the claim, never provided proof of the size of a snake.  Article published 6/8/11.
Kory Steele did an interview for the Hopewell News on snakes.  Published 7/4/11.
Kory Steele was interviewed for an article on snappers in Fluvanna Review.
9/13/11.  The VHS Facebook page reached 600 subscribers!

OTHER EDUCATIONAL EFFORTS
April 2011.  As VHS vice president, Larry Mendoza hosted an interview with an elementary school student as part of a school project.


 

VHS EDUCATION COMMITTEE REPORT for October 2009-2010

Compiled by Mike Clifford (mjc4h@vt.edu), Education Committee Chairman
VHS members are encouraged to submit a brief report their herp educational activities (local, regional, or state) to the VHS Education Committee.  We compile an annual report that includes your educational efforts on the behalf of the Virginia Herpetological Society. Those interested in serving on the Education Committee are invited to contact the chairman.

PRESENTATIONS 

WEB-BASED PUBLIC EDUCATION

The VHS website has become the leading public information source concerning the state's native reptiles and amphibians.  The addition of features such as the "identification guides" and the "look-alike guides" to the photos, range maps, & links for all Virginia species, has generated wide-spread utilization and inquiry by the public.

A new herp identification service for the general public has been established.  Visitors to the VHS website are directed to submit their questions and photos to:  animal-identification@virginiaherpetologicalsociety.com.  The requests will be processed by Kory Steele, John White, and/or Mike Clifford.  As of 10/10/10, sixty-three herp ID requests have been handled via email so far this year.  Details were presented in the August, 2010 VHS Newsletter (p.4). 
ID requests can also be posted on the VHS yahoo group message board.

Numerous requests for snake control information were received during the year from distraught homeowners.  Advice and helpful publications were provided as appropriate, via email.  Topics include control strategies, snake-proof fencing, repellants, toxicants, and other questions of interest.  Mike Clifford has copies of the documents available.

Mike Clifford, Education Committee Chairman
11131 Amelia Springs Road, Jetersville, VA 23083
E-mail:  mjc4h@vt.edu 

 


 

VHS EDUCATION COMMITTEE REPORT 2008-2009


Compiled by Mike Clifford (mjc4h@vt.edu), Education Committee Chairman
VHS members are encouraged to submit a brief report their herp educational activities (local, regional, or state) to the VHS Education Committee.  We would like to compile an annual report that includes your educational efforts on the behalf of the Virginia Herpetological Society. Those interested in serving on the Education Committee are invited to contact the chairman.
       
  • 11-06-09 Stinkpot photo for cover of American Museum of Natural History Bulletin - J. White
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  • 11-04-09 Mole salamander photo for Virginia Water Resources Research Center Newsletter - P. Sattler
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  • 10-28-09 - Photos provided to Mr. Rande Gallant, Assistant Vector Ecologist, Greater L.A. Vector Control District for field worker education. - J. White
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  • “Snake Identification and Management at Camps” was presented at the American Camping Association-Virginia Section Fall Conference on October 21, 2009 at Camp Friendship near Palmyra.  Camp directors and staff from three states learned about snake identification; management & control around camp buildings & grounds; best species for camp nature centers; and the value of snakes in the camp ecosystem. Mike Clifford conducted the session.
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  • Mountain Cove Vineyard was the site of a “Reptiles and Amphibians of the Home and Garden” presentation sponsored by the Nelson County Garden Club on October 2, 2009.  Thirty-three members and guests learned about the value and beauty of herps commonly found in the home landscape.  Mike and Pat Clifford conducted the session.
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  • “Herpetology/Reptiles and Amphibians of VA” was presented by Tim Christensen on September 17, 2009.  This was a Virginia Master Naturalist training for new cohort group of the Peninsula Chapter, Newport News, VA. 
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  • “Passport to Safety” Event for Families Living on Base at Fort Lee.  On August 22, Susan Watson, in coordination with personnel from the Fort Lee Installation Safety Office, presented information about snakes that may be encountered on the Army base.  Approximately 50 people attended this event. VDGIF’s live snakes, along with snake skins, photos of snakes, and handouts (including A Guide to the Snakes of Virginia) were presented at a table, or station, as part of the event, “Passport to Safety”.  Children attending the event were given small paper passport books that were stamped when they completed each station.  The presentation educated attendees about the snakes, what to expect to see on the base, and under what conditions they may be encountered.
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  • An hour-long “Snakes Alive!” show was given to 250 4-H members and volunteer leaders at Holiday Lake 4-H Center on August 5, 2009.  The presentation focused on the identification and natural history of common snakes native to Virginia.  Mike Clifford conducted the session.
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  • A “Wildlife of Fort Eustis” workshop on wildlife occurring on the US Army, Fort Eustis installation given by Tim Christensen and Susan Watson on July 29, 2009.  The workshop was for military families living on the installation.  Topics included reptiles and amphibians.  The VHS information booth was included amongst the exhibits. 
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  • A “Snakes Alive!” program was presented to two dozen Amelia county 4-H youth on July 7 as part of the local 4-H Day Camp. Mike Clifford conducted the session, assisted by Holiday Lake 4-H Center personnel.
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  • A live, 2-hour, on-line, “Snake Identification In-service Training” involved approximately 80 Extension personnel from across Virginia on June 22, 2009.  Mike Clifford and Dan Goerlich conducted the interactive audio-visual program which was designed to help Extension agents and Master Gardener volunteers to handle the numerous “snake problems” and questions that they receive in their localities.   The program was also made available for later viewing as well.
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  • “Herpetology/Reptiles and Amphibians of VA” was presented to the Peninsula Chapter (Newport News) of the Virginia Master Naturalists.  The March 31, 2009, training was provided by Tim Christensen.
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  • Virginia Science Olympiad - Herpetology Category.  On March 21, 2009 (all day),  Susan Watson operated the herpetology contest (questions, specimens, & photos) for Divisions B and C (middle and high school levels) of the Virginia Science Olympiad (http://www.virginiaso.com/).  Mike Clifford assisted with developing the tests, but could not attend.  This statewide competition was held at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland.  More than 700 middle and high school students from 34 different schools competed in the entire Virginia Science Olympiad.
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  • “Reptiles and Amphibians” at the Virginia Museum of Natural History.  Virginia Master Naturalists Program.  Presented by Jason Gibson.
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  • “Turtles:  Nature’s Shelled Warriors.” at the Virginia Museum of Natural History.  Presented by Jason Gibson.
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  • “The Value of Reptiles and Amphibians.”  Community Lecture.  Presented by Jason Gibson 
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  •  “Snakes-What Do You Know About Them?” was provided on November 12, 2008 to the Grafton Middle School Environmental Club of Grafton, VA.   Susan Watson and Tim Christensen gave the presentation.
  • “Herpetology/Reptiles and Amphibians of VA” was presented on October 2, 2008 by  Tim Christensen, as part of the Virginia Master Naturalist training for the Historic Rivers Chapter – Cohort 3, Williamsburg, VA
  • A 3-hour workshop on Virginia reptiles was held on June 20, 2008, during the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp at Virginia Tech.  Forty-eight gifted students, primarily from southwest Virginia, participated in the 2-week science camp.  Mike Clifford and Dr. Mike Ellerbrock conducted the herpetology session.
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) biologist Julie Hawkins contacted VHS about providing a Virginia herps training session for NRCS personnel and Soil & Water Conservation District personnel.  We developed a PowerPoint side show based on the PARC Habitat Management Guidelines for Amphibians & Reptiles of the Northeastern United States in conjunction with range maps from the VHS website and representative herp photos from various sources.  The program was presented by Mike Clifford on April 15, 2008 at the SunChase Cinema in Farmville.
  • The Virginia Science Olympiad requested help from VHS in developing the herpetology section test for both the middle and high school divisions of the state tournament.  Susan Watson, Mike Clifford, and Jason Gibson developed the questions, quiz photos, and answer keys for the April 26, 2008 competition, held in Burke, Virginia.  For more about the Science Olympiad, see http://www.soinc.org/ .
  • A hands-on "Snakes Alive" show for a hundred kids and parents was presented by Mike Clifford at the 2008 Virginia 4-H Natural Resources Weekend.  Herp programs featuring native species are a very popular at this statewide event, held every January at Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center near Appomattox.

In addition to the formal presentations above, VHS officers and committee members responded to many dozens of email requests regarding Virginia reptiles and amphibians. Most were species identification questions, usually with digital photos attached. 


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