Walking on the wild side

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department official Gary Rhodes shows off a three-foot ’gator to a group of Henderson County fifth graders from Athens and Malakoff Wednesday afternoon at the Henderson County Fairpark Complex. The presentation was part of the 10th annual Henderson County Wildlife Committee’s Rendezvous.

rich flowers/athens review
Athens Review, Athens, Texas

Hundreds of fifth graders this week are visiting the Henderson County Fairpark Complex for the 10th annual Rendezvous, sponsored by the Henderson County Wildlife Committee.

“It’s been a successful program,” Henderson County Extension Agent Rick Hirsch said. “We’d like to thank the committee and presenters for helping it all come together.”

Toby Herrington, a fifth grade language arts teacher at Athens Middle School, is one of the organizers of the event. Herrington said the Rendezvous got its start at the Clement Boy Scout Ranch and was later staged at Purtis Creek State Park before moving to the covered arenas at the fairgrounds.

“We had approximately 300 students today,” Herrington said. “About 220 were from AMS and the others from Malakoff. On Thursday we’ll have Trinidad, Eustace, Cayuga, Cross Roads and Poynor.”

The youngsters were treated to hands-on demonstrations from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and The Natural Resource Conservation Service. At their stops the students learned about boating safety, snakes and reptiles, birds and BB guns.

As the children rotated to the different presentations, Herrington said they learned a little at each spot.

They were shown how to put on a life jacket by TPWD officials.

“Many didn’t know you had to have a license to operate a motor craft,” Herrington said.

At another TPWD location, the students got a close-up view of a small alligator and several varieties of snakes. After the demonstration, the less squeamish lined up to touch the reptiles.

The NRCS spot gave the fifth graders a chance to handle sand, clay and rocky soil.

“They learned how dirt can be used to produce make-up,” Herrington said.

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e-mail rflowers@athensreview.com

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