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Philpott expo targets environmental awareness
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Christina Griffith, who owns CCSB Reptile Rescue and Rehab Center, holds Demon, a Morelets Crocodile, for people to see at the expo Saturday at Philpott. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)

Monday, April 21, 2014

By BEN R. WILLIAMS - Bulletin Staff Writer

Raising environmental awareness is crucial to the future, according to Chase Inman of the Dan River Basin Association (DRBA).

Inman was on hand at the seventh annual Environmental Education Expo at Philpott Lake Saturday, hosted by DRBA and sponsored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“This is basically an awareness event,” Inman said. “How we treat our environment is ultimately going to be how we treat ourselves, because it’s all the circle of life.”

In addition to DRBA and the Army Corps of Engineers, several organizations had displays at the free event, including CCSB Reptile Rescue, SPCA of Martinsville-Henry County, Friends of Jamison Mill, Smith River Trout Unlimited, Virginia Master Naturalists and Infinity Acres.

Dan LaPrad with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the corps is not only the premier federal environmental agency, but also the first created.

“We’re just trying to make people aware of things they can do in the environment to keep it clean and pristine,” he said.

Krista Hodges, the coordinator of education outreach and Trout in the Classroom for DRBA, had set up a “tub of bugs” display at the event: an aquarium containing crawfish, hellgrammites, crane fly larvae and other small creatures that populate streams and rivers.

The presence — or absence — of these “macroinvertebrates” is an indicator of the health of a stream, Hodges said.

The tub of bugs always is a hit with kids, who are often surprised to learn that so many creatures live in streams, she said.

“They think it’s really interesting,” Hodges said. “What we hope is that they’ll get excited about the rivers and streams, and then they’ll want to protect them because they think the stuff that’s in there is really neat.”

Chad Griffin of CCSB Reptile Rescue had some creatures on hand as well, including several small alligators and crocodiles, turtles and a variety of snakes, from a 12-foot-long albino Burmese python to a cobra.

CCSB, which is based in Winston-Salem, N.C., had humble beginnings, Griffin said. Originally, its goal was to help rehabilitate injured turtles; for example, the box turtles that frequently are hit by cars when they try to cross the road.

“We started to try and help turtles, and it grew,” he said. “Now we’re the largest rescue and full medical rehab center in the United States for reptiles.”

Inman said she hopes area residents will get more involved in their environment, and joining DRBA is a good way to do it.

“The Dan River Basin Association is a basin-wide organization,” she said. “They take care of the basin in Virginia all the way to North Carolina. We really want to encourage people to get more involved: volunteering, helping take care of the environment or making a donation to help the Dan River as well.”

For more information on DRBA, visit


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