Jeff Corwin brings humor, wildlife to campus

Austin Quintero

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Jeff Crowin spoke to the audience while members of the crowd got the chance to hold an alligator  during his visit to Midwestern State University, Artist Lecture Series, Oct. 2, 2014. Photo by Sam Croft

Jeff Crowin spoke to the audience while members of the crowd got the chance to hold an alligator during his visit Oct. 2. Photo by Sam Croft

Students and families found a humorous and exciting learning experience when Jeff Corwin, famous for his shows such as the Animal Planet visited campus on Oct. 2.

Corwin came from Massachusetts for the Artist Lecture Series, speaking to a crowed of about 350 in Akin Auditorium, including students who took advantage of the free tickets.

“I grew up watching Jeff!” Tyler Colley, sophomore in graphic design, said. “He really inspired me since I was little and is really the reason I have a passion for animals today.”

Corwin, 47, came to campus with one goal in mind — to educate his audience.

Jeff Corwin interacts with members of the audience, Madison Brechbulh, nursing freshman, Amy Calderon, freshman in athletic training, and other students on stage as he talks about an alligator during his visit to Midwestern State University, Artist Lecture Series, Oct. 2, 2014. Photo by Sam Croft

Jeff Corwin interacts with members of the audience, Madison Brechbulh, nursing freshman, Amy Calderon, freshman in athletic training, and other students on stage as he talks about an alligator during his visit as part of the Artist Lecture Series, Oct. 2. Photo by Sam Croft

“It’s to connect to the audience when it comes to our responsibility of environmental stewardship and habitat loss, but in a fun way,” Corwin said. “A lot of these people grew up watching me, which is kind of depressing cause it means i’m getting old, but it’s neat cause the people have been around with me for my entire career.”

Throughout his performance Corwin brought volunteers on stage, some young some older, to get them up close and personal with the animals. Students and members of the audience took turns holding a Bufa Marine Toad, Alligator Snapping Turtle, Black-throated Monitor, boa constrictor, alligator, and a Gaboon Viper, all of which were rescued animals.

What Corwin really brought to the audience’s attention though, apart from the snakes and reptiles, was the beauty of Texas. Corwin said he’d been to Texas plenty of times through his TV shows and his time in the Army, calling it a “jewel” of a country. He stressed that to protect nature, we need to start here in Texas.

“Conservation begins in our back yard,” Corwin said. “A lot of people go for the lions or pandas because they have that charisma, but the Houston Toad which is now endangered is just as important.”

There are more than 200 endangered or threatened amphibians, birds, plants, fishes, reptiles, mammals and invertebrates native to Texas. According to Corwin, one way to protect these species is to protect their environments. Species’ livelihoods depend on their ability to survive, which in turn depends on their habitat being healthy and livable.

After the show, a long line extended down the Hardin hallway while Corwin stayed to sign books and take pictures with attendees. Smiles and squeals of excitement were proof his fans still loved him and that his shows continue to be popular.

“I really enjoyed it and I didn’t expect it to be like that,” Brianda Morales, biology junior, said. “I liked how he related to both types of the audience, young and old, and he not only showed the animals but lectured on how to conserve them.”

Corwin attended Bridgewater State University where he received his bachelor’s in biology and anthropology, then later attended the University of Massachusetts — Amherst where he obtained a master’s of science in wildlife and fisheries. Soon after he began his career on television and has stayed with it since.

“Always follow your dream. It’s gonna happen but it will take a lot of work,” Corwin said. “Even though achieving that goal may be down the line, it’s very very doable if you exercise those muscles you need in your career in the talents and skills you have.”

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