An off-campus trip by participants in this year’s Kids College at HWS was recently featured in the Finger Lakes Times. The group travelled to the Cumming Nature Center for a presentation by Wildlife Defenders, an education outreach group, as part of zoology week. According to the article, campers “got the answers to those questions and had the opportunity to get up close and personal with six wild animals during a stop.”
It noted students “got to touch the crested porcupine’s quill, along with a baby American alligator and a three-banded armadillo, the only armadillo that can roll itself into a complete ball.”
It quotes Paula Foote, director of Kids College, “I thought it was awesome. It’s a great experience for kids to interact with wildlife in a closed environment and build relationship with adults. I think it worked well.”
The full article appears below.
Finger Lakes Times
Wild About Wildlife
Kids College participants get a close-up look at animals from around the globe
Sean McCracken • July 18, 2010
NAPLES – Know the difference between an alligator and a crocodile? How about a cavy and a coatimundi?
Kids enrolled in Hobart and William Smith’s Kids College summer program got the answers to those questions and had the opportunity to get up close and personal with six wild animals during a stop at the Cumming Nature Center Thursday.
The trip was part of Kids College’s zoology week, and the presentation was offered by Wildlife Defenders, an education outreach group run by members of Bridges for Brain Injury out of Canandaigua.
Wildlife Defenders shared three continents worth of wildlife, including the African crested porcupine, South American creatures such as the mountain coatimundi and Patagonian cavy, and the Virginia opossum, which is actually native to New York state.
The children got to touch the crested porcupine’s quill, along with a baby American alligator and a three-banded armadillo, the only armadillo that can roll itself into a complete ball.
Kids College director Paula Foote said this was the first time the program had worked with Wildlife Defenders. She saw it as a great way for the kids to get some positive hands-on experience with animals.
“I thought it was awesome. It’s a great experience for kids to interact with wildlife in a closed environment and build relationship with adults,” Foote said. “I think it worked well.”
The baby coatimundi, a South American relative of raccoons, was the favorite of 13-year-old Sophia Turbide.
“I always just tend to love little furry things,” Turbide said with a laugh.
But Turbide also liked the fact that the Wildlife Defenders volunteers, who are survivors of traumatic brain injuries like strokes or aneurysms, got to build their confidence by presenting to the audience.
“I really enjoy learning about animals, and I love the fact that the group helps people with brain trauma as well,” Turbide said.
Ten-year-old Kyle Fitzgerald preferred the armadillo… or the alligator… or…
“I liked them all,” Fitzgerald said after some deliberation.
The presentation finished with a rapid-fire question-and-answer session with the children and Wildlife Defenders director John Truini, who explained things like the difference between alligators and crocodiles.
Truini could not answer the age-old question of why porcupines have mohawks, although he does believe the porcupine was ahead of the fashion curve.
“I think she had [the mohawk] before everyone else,” Truini said.
Other zoology week activities included trips to the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge and Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester.
For more information on Wildlife Defenders, visit the Bridges for Brain Injury website at www.bridgesforbraininjury.org.