2022 Year in Review: Lydia Price, Outreach Docent

It’s time to look back on 2022! Check our blog between Christmas and New Year’s for a variety of stories and memories of 2022 from the staff and volunteers of the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

As we all know, these past several years have been far from so-called “normal”. For several years, COVID — and then this year, HPAI (Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza) – altered WCV’s ability to do the usual Open Houses each season, and this stalled those of us who are Outreach and Education Docents.   But this past spring, WCV rented a big tent and brought in a porta-potty so we could offer modified open house programming, free to the public.

In this setting, I volunteered for two weekend days of back-to-back programming. It was so great to be back. We did our normal presentations on the history and facts of WCV since its inception. We had two volunteers and an Outreach and Education staff each day. After our talks about the facts of WCV, each of us brought an education ambassador to the tent to show attendees. The first day we did this, my husband Doug (also an Outreach/Education Docent) and I had our first chance to work with Connor. (He is awesome by the way). We worked with Alex on the second day, and he is also great. Such a great Outreach Team.

Connor had arranged for me to show and talk about my fav Ambassador, Oscar the Eastern Hog-nosed Snake! I love her and I love the drama story of this species. They play dead better than any actor in a movie!

So, on to my POOP STORY. We had three scheduled groups of people on our first program day. In the second group, one little boy asked “How do snakes poop and where from?”  I honestly had to admit I was not sure but would get the info. I turned Oscar over a bit as I was walking among attendees to show them up close. And then I said “Well, I see a bigger slit toward the end of her underbelly, so maybe that is where.” Another attendee was looking it up on her cell phone and said yes. And read aloud: Once the meal is reduced to poop, the snake can get rid of it through an anal opening, or cloaca, Latin for “sewer”. This opening can be found at the end of a snake’s belly and beginning of its tail. I thanked her for looking up and sharing the answer.

When the third and last group came in for the day and I was walking Oscar through the aisle for the attendees … guess what?  You got it! The kids there started laughing and yelling “He (really a she we know now) pooped on you. It ran right down my slacks. We laughed and laughed. I told them the previous group had asked where she pooped from, and now she must have decided to demonstrate. It was a fun day.

I love that I learn from each of these events. Always something new in the world of wildlife!

— Lydia Price, Outreach Docent volunteer

Check out all of our year-in-review posts!