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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Washington Voices

Animal Expert Has Words To The Wild For Students

Richard Hoyt sounded like a grandfather, as he talked to the West Valley kindergartners about wild animals.

And a grandfather, he is. But the retired game officer also travels Eastern Washington and beyond, teaching schoolchildren that “wild animals aren’t the same as your kitty cat and puppy dog.

“They need to be left in the wild and they need to be left alone.”

Hoyt, 65, spent Tuesday at the Millwood Early Childhood Education Center. His morning audiences of 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds were rapt, as he talked about the dangers of getting too close to an owl, what a possum eats and why snakes have color.

Hoyt used slides he’d taken for much of his talk. But when it came to the snake part of his talk, well, he used snakes he’d brought from his home in Ephrata.

First came Corny, a corn snake with an attractive pattern of autumn colors.

Then, he got out an albino corn snake, white as could be. Cloudy, he’d named it.

A hawk circling over a field would spot Cloudy with little trouble, and “turn him into McDonald’s or Wendy’s hamburgers.”

Hoyt didn’t sugar-coat his message.

Bears? Cute, but don’t go close.

“If you kids ever go hiking with Mom and Dad, don’t you ever go near a baby bear. If you do, he’ll go ‘eeh’ and that mama bear will hear him and come and hurt you.”

Same with bobcats. And owls.

He also warned kids against playing with baby mice or even playing where they knew mice had been. Hoyt didn’t mention the hantavirus, a deadly virus that can be found in mice droppings. But clearly, it was on his mind.

“Stay away from little mice. Dust can come up from their fur and make you sick.”

Mostly, he kept things simple for the little ones.

What does a possum eat? Dead animals, “so they won’t smell.”

Smart, smarter

National Merit finalists have been announced in the Central Valley School District: Curtis Schultz, a Central Valley High School senior, and Matt Dockrey, a University High School senior. About 200 students were named finalists from Washington.

Kevin Haff of U-Hi was named a semi-finalist, in addition to other semi-finalists announced last fall.

Many pennies make a gift

During Random Acts of Kindness Week in February, children at Trent Elementary School raised $236.63 in a penny drive for the Wishing Star Foundation. The pennies were presented to two East Valley High School students, Brian Knisley and Paul McDavid. The foundation has fulfilled wishes for both teens.

Budding engineers

Central Valley students swept the recent Inland Northwest Regional Bridge Contest, by building bridges that could carry many times their own weight.

Sophomore Aaron Miller of Central Valley High School won top honors, when his balsa-wood-and-glue bridge held 1,920 times its weight.

Josey Booth, ninth-grader at Valley Christian School, won second. His bridge bore 1,748 times its weight.

First place prize was $100; second place won $50; third won $25. The first and second place winners also won a trip to Coral Gables, Fla., to compete in an international bridge-building competition on May 18. Several local engineering firms and associations sponsored the contest.

Other placings include:

Evan Sims, a senior at University High School, won third. His bridge bore 1,630 times its weight.

Fourth was CV senior Cindy Bischoff, with a bridge that bore 1,514 times its weight.

Fifth: U-Hi junior Mike Fields, 1,395 times its weight.

Sixth: U-Hi senior Chris Fields, 1,258.

Seventh: U-Hi senior T.J. Dayley, 1,234.

CV’s Miller also won $100 for making the best guess about how much weight his bridge would hold.

Specializing in spelling

Valley Christian School winners of the Association of Christian School International Spelling Bee last month were:

In first grade, Danika Schneider, second, and Tannon Herman, third;

In second grade, Margaret Ansett, fourth;

In third grade, Joel Wagnild, second, and Cameron Eden, fourth;

In fourth grade, Katie Wilson, second, and Sara Nordmeyer, fourth;

In fifth grade, Jacob Nordmeyer, first, and Terry Lynn Sjolie, third;

In sixth grade, Tiffany Stager, second.

Jacob Nordmeyer also won third in the final round for grades 5-8.


Central Valley School District is still trying to make sure all parents know the in-service day this month is March 19, not March 12.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

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