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Reynolds wants to turn animal hobby into career

Ex-professor attempting to be traveling educator


By Mark Cooper

Opening the door to the freezer at Brad Reynolds' home is not for the faint of heart. Inside, you're likely to find reptile eggs and road kill: snakes that picked the wrong time to cross the highway.  Reynolds, a former biology professor at Owensboro Community College, often finds and brings home animals -- both dead and alive -- to add to his growing collection.

There are few rooms in his two-story Owensboro home that don't have a fish or turtle aquarium. An iguana lives in the back yard. The snakes are kept in the basement. "My wife is pretty tolerant of the road kill snakes in the freezer," Reynolds said. "She doesn't mind the snakes, but she doesn't like the mice I bring home to feed them."

The animals are more than just a hobby. Reynolds hopes to turn his collection and his experience at teaching biology into an exciting tour of duty as a traveling educator for elementary and middle school students.  Reynolds is calling his new business Real Science Programs because it relies on live animals. "I've always collected these animals," said Reynolds, 46. "I was a champion animal catcher as a kid."  Reynolds has no clients yet, but he has developed two one-hour science programs he hopes to be hired to present in classrooms and assemblies in Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois and Tennessee. His fee will start at $200, according to a brochure.

One program deals with "Cold-Blooded Killers," which will explore the ecology of reptiles. Each live animal will be introduced with a multimedia presentation about the ecosystem it lives in. Reynolds has an iguana, black rat snake, green snakes and an assortment of turtles to show, but hopes to eventually add rattlers and a cottonmouth. The road kill animals are useful to show students how animals change size and color over the course of their life cycle, Reynolds said.

Reynolds' "Inside Your Body" will use animal organs from pigs and sheep to show what bodies look like on the inside. Sheep kidneys, for example, are about the same size and shape as human kidneys, he said.  Using a video projector, students will watch while Reynolds dissects a pig and discusses how cells, tissues and organ systems work.

The programs are designed specifically to cover key concepts on the state core content, the skills that students must master in the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System.  Both programs were inspired by a similar programs that Reynolds has presented at Burns Middle School and other schools for the past several years.

Reynolds earned a bachelor's degree in journalism in 1978 from the University of Kentucky and a master's degree in biology in 1993 from Eastern Kentucky University. He taught at OCC from 1992 to May of this year.  The shift from professor to traveling demonstrator is one Reynolds looks forward to.  "I found teaching a little limiting because you're teaching what someone else tells you to," Reynolds said. "I hope this gives me some flexibility to do what I enjoy doing."

On the Net

To learn more about Real Science Programs, visit http://www.realscienceprograms.com/.

With a little luck and a lot of help from reptiles like this rat snake, Brad Reynolds, a former college biology professor from Owensboro, hopes to share his knowledge of reptiles, small mammals and the human body with elementary and middle school students through a new teaching business he's started called the Real Science Program. Photo by Gary Emord-Netzley