By Chris Kieffer
TUPELO – For Thomas Street Elementary School first-grader Lykerious Gilbert, 6, the coolest part about Thursday’s nature program at the school was seeing a Eurasian Eagle Owl with its wings fully extended.
For classmate Hadley Corley, 6, it was watching a bobcat walk through the school’s auditorium. “It was awesome,” he said.
Bob Tarter, director and wildlife biologist at the Natural History Educational Company of the Midsouth, led the 50-minute program at the school to introduce the students to various critters. His “predators to prey” exhibit also included a live snake, dwarf caiman and prairie dog.
“It is nice to learn something from a book, but when you get to see an owl’s eyes, it is a great way to remember it,” said Tarter, who visits nearly 700 schools in libraries in eight states each year.
He said he wants to inspire the students – not only to understand how the natural world works or to consider a career in science – but to find their passion.
“If you find something you are interested in, it is not work,” he said.
Tarter’s visit was funded by a grant from the Association for Excellence in Education. He visited Carver Elementary earlier in the day.
He spoke to the Thomas Street students about the different kinds of animals and the vocabulary to describe them – carnivores, herbivores and omnivores.
“This is one of those events in a kid’s life that 15 years from now, they will look back and still remember,” said Thomas Street Principal Chad Chism.