PNW BOCES Naturalists Teach Walden Students about Area Animals

February 28, 2019

Learning about animals in class is one thing – but seeing them up close provides a special type of education. Walden students got that opportunity this week when PNW BOCES naturalists came to visit.

Students listened as naturalists Sean Mormino and Colin M. Remick, from the Center for Environmental Education, explained the differences between mammals and reptiles, and how birds descended from dinosaurs. The students learned about animal adaptations, how wildlife differ from pets and why they should never throw food from a car.
The real stars of the assemblies, however, were the animal visitors, which included an injured hawk, a turtle, a hedgehog and even a Madagascar hissing cockroach. The students inched away from the giant cockroach, and asked question after question about the red-tailed hawk. Nine-year-old Will Boyd, who said he had already learned that birds were reptiles, was nonetheless fascinated to see the scales around the hawk’s talons that proved it. He also said he loved learning that hedgehogs’ spikes go up and down in different situations – and how they differ from porcupines’.

“It was really cool to see all the animals,” agreed classmate Jericho Hartley. The students learned that the hawk was struck by a car when it was hunting a rodent attracted to the road by food thrown from a car.

Mormino and Remick, whose team does a variety of wildlife, environmental and team-building assemblies for area schools, said students are always attracted to animals they bring.  

“You can talk to students about animals and show them pictures, but seeing them up close in the flesh is very different for them,” Mormino said. It is also easier for students to understand about local threats to wildlife when they see the results – such as the injured hawk – in front of them.

While the naturalists enjoy doing assemblies at schools throughout the area, Remick said it was special to be able to visit a PNW BOCES school because the students and educators are all part of the BOCES family.

Agreed Mormino: “We get to be a part of the team.”