Retired Teacher Helps Make A Difference For Wildlife Education And Conservation In The Classroom
Panola County native and retired school teacher Mrs. Vicki Schwinn Wolfe of Courtland, Mississippi, has a new role as the Educational Director for Wild Again in Mississippi, Rescue, and Rehabilitation, INC. Shortly after her retirement, Mrs. Wolfe realized how much she missed being in the classroom and teaching the young minds of students. After filling out a volunteer form and becoming a new volunteer for Wild Again in Mississippi Rescue, our Executive Director, Estelle Roberts, found out about Wolfe's extensive background of being an educator. "God has placed so many valuable people in our organization. I have always wanted an educational director, and the thought remained. However, God answered my prayers the day I received an email with the application Vicki filled out online the night before," said Executive Director Roberts. "Upon speaking to Vicki and learning about her background, I knew once again God was answering another prayer of mine!"
Wolfe taught for twenty-eight years in the south school district of Panola at Batesville Elementary School. "I always had animals in my classroom," said Wolfe, "as I feel children should learn both responsibilities of caring for them as well as a love and compassion for animals." "Even though it is not a part of the school curriculum, I have always felt if you taught them to love and have compassion for animals, then it would transfer to compassion for others they interact with daily," Wolfe said during our interview together. "I have had birds, turtles, fish, hamsters, and Guinea pigs in my classroom over the years, not to mention for several years we have a classroom bunny," she remarked, "why, we even raised ducklings one year!"
Under her new title as the Educational Director for the non-profit organization, Wolfe goes to schools anywhere in North Mississippi to give seminars to the students, teaching them the fundamental importance of wildlife conservationism and the need for organizations such as that of Wild Again in Mississippi. From kindergarten classes to high school, Wolfe can get the delivery of the seminar on any school-age level. "When I have held the showcase seminars at the library and other places, I have done art activities or crafts related to the topic we are discussing," said Wolfe, "I usually will read a funny children's book, my favorite thing from teaching kindergarten." "During these showcase seminars, I have done animal footprints in clay, directed drawings, played competitive games," said Wolfe enthusiastically, "it just all depends on the age of the audience that I am speaking with that day."
Sadly, due to laws and regulations set forth by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, Wolfe cannot have an ambassador wildlife animal native to Mississippi to take to the showcase seminars for the kids to see and feel. Hence, she uses the next best thing- animal pelts. "I get asked a lot whether it bothers me to use these pelts, and in short, it does, but all these animal furs or pelts that I use for the showcase seminars were animals that unfortunately succumbed to the injuries. However, they did not go to waste; they continue to serve the greater good by providing a vital tool in educating children in these seminars so that the students can see and feel while learning simultaneously," said Wolfe. "I usually take one of my exotic pets with me as well," Wolfe said smiling, "I have used my sugar gliders when discussing marsupials since opossums are in the same family. I also use my hedgehog and chameleon to discuss how animals protect or camouflage themselves."
Schools and teachers can reach out to Educational Director Mrs. Vicki Wolfe by going online to www.wildagaininmississippi.org and clicking on "Teachers: Schedule In-Class Showcase Seminar" and fill out the required questions on the form to submit it directly for Mrs. Wolfe to reach out about scheduling a date and time to set up the showcase.
"Our hope and mission of this organization is so that every animal, from juvenile to adult, has the chance of staying wild, but in the event of an injury or orphanage, we will be there to ensure the animal has the best chance at one day becoming wild again," said Executive Director Roberts.
To learn more about how you can volunteer and help achieve this goal, you can fill out a volunteer application by visiting www.wildagaininmississippi.org/volunteers.