Virtual STEM Festival could change your mind about snakes

Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Kylee Timbrook (right) got the opportunity to touch a snake during one of Mineral County’s prior STEM festivals. Jim Freganaro, wildlife biologist with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources will be a presenter during this year’s Virtual STEM Festival to be held Saturday, March 13. Participants will get to “hear” like a snake and will learn the differences between poisonous and non-poisonous snakes. Those wishing to register online may still do so at

For the News Tribune

KEYSER - Ribbit, Ribbit, Hissssssss…

Some people get a little nervous when they see a snake or worry about getting warts from a frog. Wildlife biologists work with snakes and frogs all the time, however, and say they are important contributors to our ecosystems keeping critters in check.

Jim Freganaro, wildlife biologist with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, and Sheldon Owen, Ph.D., WVU extension wildlife specialist, will be presenting a fascinating look at some of West Virginia’s non-game wildlife during the 2021 Virtual Mineral County STEM Festival on Saturday, March 13.

Life from a snake’s point of view will be presented by wildlife biologist Freganaro. Participants will learn that snakes are cool, and participate in an activity to “hear” like a snake using a metal clothes hanger and some string. 

Freganaro will have several snakes on hand to show  the differences between poisonous and non-poisonous.

Dr. Sheldon Owen will cover the differences between frogs and toads by teaching the unique calls to help identify what you are hearing in the wild. Students will then be able to move forward and become a Citizen Scientist, using the calls to see what kind of frog or toad life is close by and helping other scientists by completing information as to where they are located.

Participation in this event is easy through Zoom. Simply register online at Once registered, families will receive the zoom link, session times, topic descriptions, and a materials list. Most sessions will involve hands-on activities with simple materials easily available. Quality closed captioning will be provided.

The Community Trust Foundation (CTF) provided seed funding to help establish this collaboration that benefits area youths through compelling hands on STEM activities. CTF is committed to building stronger communities in Allegany, Garrett, and Mineral counties by providing administrative services and financial management to philanthropic funds.

For regular updates on the STEM Festival, like the Facebook page If you have questions call the WVU Mineral County Extension Office at 304-788-3621.