Face to Face for Snakes

To celebrate ASP’s fifth birthday, we’re sharing five inspiring stories with you — a new one each week through the end of 2019. Read them all here.

Pipsqueak the Gophersnake meets a family at Continental Divide Trail Days 2019, photographed by Jeff Smith
Pipsqueak the Gophersnake meets a family at Continental Divide Trail Days 2019, photographed by Jeff Smith.
This past summer at the farmers’ market, a little boy ran up and hugged me. At first I thought it was a case of mistaken identity, but then he started asking after Pipsqueak, one of our snake teaching assistants (who usually steals the show). We had visited his classroom at a nearby rural school and made the kind of lasting impression we aim to with our outreach program: to teach people that snakes aren’t bad, there are safe ways to coexist, and having snakes around us makes our lives richer.

Helping kids fall in love with their snake neighbors is an important step towards changing the prevalent attitude that “the only good snake is a dead snake.” Since May 2014 we’ve participated in more than 20 festivals and given dozens of presentations in classrooms, libraries, and other venues. In all, we’ve reached more than 30,000 people in the southwestern United States! It’s hard to beat a face-to-face conversation, especially for contentious issues like living with venomous snakes. So we’re now working to broaden the geographic reach of these programs – stay tuned for details about that in 2020!