VIRGINIA — Andrew Broz, program specialist for the International Wolf Center in Ely, turned on the projector and set out a wolf skull and pelt, along with other artifacts to enrich his presentation Thursday at Roosevelt Elementary.
Twenty-four fifth graders from Amy Zadnikar’s class filled the room as the final group to see the presentation. Broz has seen all of the Virginia fifth graders this week and presented his wolf program “Wolves at our door,” a production that coincides with the students’ science classes in an interactive format.
Students are learning about conservation and wildlife management, and the presentation helps connect the in-class lessons to real life, allowing students to apply it and potentially create a longer-lasting connection to the sciences.
“This presentation educates our students on how wolves exist within our world,” Zadnikar said. ‘It also takes some of our science standards and makes them applicable to the outside world.”
Broz stressed that the program is not advocacy, rather strictly educational.
It’s funded by a state grant through the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, and is broadly part of an outreach program at the center called WolfLink that allows for these visits and online video conferences around the nation.
“We reach out to people who can’t get to the center and may not even be in Minnesota,” Broz said.
Broz taught the students about wolves’ migration to Minnesota and how the state is the only one in the lower 48 that never lost its population. He also outlines some perceptions of wolves, noting no human has been recorded as being killed by a wolf, and how the wolf can be a predator to sheep and livestock.
“We just teach about wolves, not what to feel or think,” he added.
The International Wolf Center currently has seven wolves, including Axel and Grayson, the two pups that came to the center in May 2016. When prodded, Broz said the pups are almost full-grown and about 90 pounds. They will probably grow to about 100 pounds, he said.
The center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday until May 15, when winter hours conclude.