Rosa Parks Elementary Students Meet Wild Friends

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Provided by Prince William County Schools (PWCS)

Have you ever pet a python or touched a bearded dragon? Rosa Parks Elementary second-graders can now claim this experience. The “Wildlife Friends” program brought several animals, and each provided a great lesson for students.

Animals Unlimited, LLC

Rosa Parks Elementary second-grade teachers sought out Animals Unlimited, LLC from Richmond for the great hands-only learning for their student. In addition, the company’s professional educators included key information that students need to learn to be successful on SOL tests.

Second-graders streamed into the activity room for the assembly with excited and inquisitive expressions. During the presentation, Jana Strickland, Animals Unlimited owner, introduced students to each animal and explained where they came from as well as details about their habitats. Strickland and her team are known as animal ambassadors. Their presentation included educational topics such as classification, life processes, individual species, life cycles, habitats, how changes affect the species, and how the species depends on and adapts to live in the habitat. All topics are covered in SOL testing.

Students had the option to get up close and personal with an endangered ring-tailed lemur from Madagascar, a South American coatimundi, millipedes, hissing cockroaches, bunnies, an Australian bearded dragon, an African Homes hinge back tortoise, and a ball python snake.

International Baccalaureate School Primary Years School

After reminding students of safe practices around animals, Principal Sue Danielson stepped in to assist with the presentation. With Strickland’s help, Danielson carried a ball python snake on her shoulders to demonstrate that it was safe (and kind of cool), then encouraged a student volunteer to help her hold it. She continued the authentic learning experience by donning a pair of gloves and holding a hedgehog to give her students a closer observation. 

“As an International Baccalaureate School Primary Years School, we want learning for our students to be engaging and real,” Danielson shared. “We want to be able to bring in animals from different continents and have our students learn about the fauna’s environments, habitats on the continents and where the animals they’re meeting live.”

Second-grade Teacher Sheila Mueller was pleased with the program. “My students loved this hands-on experience with live animals. What a perfect fit for our adaptations and habitat units,” she said. 

“It was awesome to see my students be risk takers and touch animals that were new to them. The instructor was very knowledgeable and did a great job interacting with the students,” second-grade teacher Erin Burgess said. “It provided them the opportunity to observe animals and feel a connection with wildlife.”

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