Museum comes to school; shows off ‘exhibits’

Published 12:47 am Monday, May 19, 2008

NATCHEZ — There were oohs, ahhs and a lot of switching seats when the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science’s Crystie Baker walked around the classroom at Natchez High with one of the four live reptiles.

She brought the critters Wednesday to educate students about the state’s wildlife.

For four days last week Baker relayed information about everything from Mississippi’s endangered ringed saw back turtles — which are only found in the Pearl River system of Mississippi and Louisiana — to general information on foxes, bats and bears.

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“We learned about the endangered turtle, how to tell the difference between poisonous and nonpoisonous snakes and how to estimate the age of turtles,” ninth grader Merle Davis said.

A foot-long alligator, a box turtle and a young nonpoisonous hybrid water snake were also on the guest list of animal educators.

“I’m into animals,” student Michael Johnson said. “And watching the Discovery Channel makes you think (the animals) were more aggressive.”

Baker, an outreach educational biologist for the museum, visits schools and organizations in southwest Mississippi in an effort to “give people a chance to see things they’ve never experienced and inform them on about nature,” she said.

Natchez High Ecology and Biology Club president and biology instructor Issac King said he was happy to have Baker in his classroom.

“The program increases the students’ knowledge in natural science and is like an extension of the classroom,” he said.

“Students can read something in a book but when they can actually touch and see the real thing they get a better understanding,” King said.

The visit is free and parties interested in getting a visit from the museum and its critters can get information at