I CANNOT BELIEVE THE SUMMER IS OVER!! It flew by too fast. Words cannot express how much I have enjoyed my time in Oak Ridge, TN. The information I have learned from the students, John Byrd, and about
snakes have exceeded my expectations. I saw severe lesions of snake fungal disease that I haven’t seen before. I worked with new species and learned which of those give live birth (viviparous) and which lay eggs (oviparous).
Here’s a list of all the species we caught this summer.
- copperhead – live birth
- brown snake – live birth
- black kingsnake – eggs
- black racer – eggs
- smooth earth snake – live birth
- ringneck – eggs
- corn snake – eggs
- black rat- eggs
- worm snake – eggs
The student’s asked me some questions about snake fungal disease that I didn’t know the answer to. One of the things Vet school has taught me is that there is no way you will know everything that a client asks you, but the important thing is that you are honest with them and tell
them you don’t know but will find out and get back to them with the answer. I did exactly that, and I said exactly that to the CRESO students. School can be really intimidating to someone at any age and my hope is that it would help my confidence and also the high schoolers seeing that it’s okay to not have all the answers. My boss, John Byrd taught me how to identify snakes based on their shed, how to properly run up a hill (shorter steps on the balls of your feet – in case you were wondering), and how to balance teaching without making sure your research goals are not compromised. The students reminded me why I love field work so much, and hearing about their hopes and goals for the future warmed my heart because I am lucky to be in the place that I was aspiring to when I was their age. Kelsey, the senior in undergrad at the U of TN also taught me a lot. She taught me how to properly say “Weigels” in a southern accent without sounding British. She taught me how to spackle a wall. She also taught me how fight for what I want and to be confident in my instincts. She touched my heart in a way that everyone deserves to have in the lifetime. I call her my southern twin 🙂
This summer we started doing something that no one has done in the past with snake surveys. The CRESO students expressed interest in night surveys as well as my own curiosity of what we would catch. As the summer progressed we had to move our morning surveys up and our afternoon surveys back. It was so hot that the snakes didn’t need to go under the boards we had out to get warm. We thought, lets starts at 9 pm and see what we catch because it can’t hurt. We did our night surveys out at the landfill and our first night out we caught 4 snakes when during the day we would MAYBE catch 1. We all thought, “wow this is great we caught 4 times as many snakes AND we’re not sweating in the heat!”. We continued catching 4-5 snakes each night survey. We started our surveys at 9 pm and ended around midnight. We all carried flashlights or wore headlamps and had a lot of fun!
All this being said you can imagine my goodbyes were hard and I definitely cried. I’m going to quote Winnie the Pooh and say “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard”. All of the knowledge and experience that I’ve been able to have this summer wouldn’t be possible without Dr. Allender. I’m so appreciative he saw me as a student who would not only get the most out of this experience but also fit right in with the CRESO program.
Now its time to do the behind the scenes work. Back to the lab I go to work on testing the samples for snake fungal disease! I’m excited for the results!