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DEC employees bring pond creatures to Jefferson Elementary students


MASSENA - Jefferson Elementary School students learning about the life-cycle were given a hands-on lesson when state Department of Environmental Conservation employees brought frogs, tadpoles and other amphibians to the school.

Thomas Smith and Colby Bowman showed off Tree Frogs, Bull Frogs, Wood Frogs, Northern Leopard Frogs, tadpoles and other slimy creatures to students of several grades. Some students treated the creatures with delight, others with disgust and some a mixture of both.

“A few students were real interested. A few didn’t want to be in the same room with them,” Mr. Smith said.

Breigh Steenburg, a pre-kidnergarten student, said only “two persons” in her class seemed to be afraid of the frogs. Breigh chose not to hold the Bull Frog, but she did touch it. “It was a little slimy,” she said.

During a visit to a fifth-grade classroom, Mr. Smith and Mr. Bowman wowed students with the tree frog, which could climb up a dry erase board, and let willing students take hold of whatever frogs or tadpoles they wished. Most of those students were brave enough to hold at least some kind of creature, but many quickly dropped the frog or tadpole back into its water tank and ran for the classroom’s sink to wash their “slimy” hands. A select few were tough enough to take hold of the bohemoth bull frog.

“The real big bull frog was gross,” according to fifth-grader Creedance J. King. “The (frog) eggs felt like jelly.”

Other students didn’t mind the “slimy” nature of the creatures, such as fifth-grader Megan C. Eddy, who enjoys playing in area wetlands with her friends and likes to catch frogs and other creatures. “They were cute,” said fifth-grader Lindsay A. Montroy.

The hands-on lesson was brought to the school thanks to Jessica Smith, a reading specialist who offered to bring in her husband, Mr. Smith, who helps manage Wilson Hill’s wildlife area for the DEC.

The lesson was a part of junior kindergarten teacher Sherry Ouimet’s curriculum on the life-cycle, which also included monitoring chicken eggs, set to hatch today, and the metamorphosis of caterpillars, which have already been released as butterflies, according to Jefferson Elementary School Principal Duane Richards.

“They originally asked for tadpoles. All I had to do was ask for tadpoles and it just kind of took off from there,” Ms. Smith said.

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