Community Champions: HHI’s Lowcountry Critters Program

Community Champions: HHI’s Lowcountry Critters Program
Lowcountry Critters Program at the Coastal Discovery Museum on Hilton Head Island. (Source: WTOC)

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (WTOC) - It’s not unusual to see wildlife on Hilton Head Island, but the Coastal Discovery Museum’s Lowcountry Critters Program provides a rare opportunity to get up close - and learn from - animals you don’t always see so easily.

“It doesn’t have to be boring to be educational.”

That’s not only the premise, but the goal of the program is to allow visitors some exciting hands-on experiences.

“Snakes, alligators, turtles; and so they get to handle them and learn to live responsibly alongside those native species,” said Rex Garniewicz, President, Coastal Discovery Museum.

Education is central to every program on the 68-acre property that tries to preserve and celebrate what Hilton Head Island was like before development, especially the Lowcountry Critters Program, which has a unique way of touching imaginations.

“Being hands-on with animals is great. Using animals as an educational tool has been proven to be very effective,” said educator, Rebecca Shannon, Coastal Discovery Museum.

“It’s cool. It’s really soft and scaly. It’s nice to see one up close. Usually, they’re hiding under grass or in the river,” said Lowcountry Critters Program visitor, Vito Dejesus.

“One of the great things about the program is kids aren’t afraid of anything, so, the kids really embrace the snakes and alligators and turtles, and they try to embarrass their parents into also holding them.”

The Lowcountry Critters Program is offered twice a week during the summer months.

"I think it ties people to the museum, and then they learn about all the other things that we do. "We do 1,700 different programs over the course of the year, so there’s lots of stuff going on here from history lecture series, environmental lecture series, to our hands on programming.

The program becomes popular with class trips during the school year as an introduction to what they have in their own backyard.

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