History of the East Texas Herpetological Society
In 2002, Russ became president again. Mike Rapley, an exercise physiologist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center who joined the society in 1998, took over as grants committee chair. The print newsletter, which cost the society about $2.50 a copy, went online.
Two years later, Rapley became president.
The society continues to hum along. Board member Meridith Wehrle brought the club into the 21st century by developing its Facebook page, establishing new social networks and modernizing the website.
Because it’s hard to find presenters during the holidays, since 2009 the club’s November meetings have featured behind-the-scenes tours. In 2010, one member invited Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts from the area to the tour. About 160 people showed up – more than three times the usual number for a tour. But, the club adapted like a gecko, and everyone was able to tour the reptile house. The youngsters got exposure to the zoo, Scout masters talked to the zoo about doing that again for a fee, and the club added members.
Over the years, members have helped place animals dropped off at the zoo, fostering them until they were fit to be adopted and a home was found, and after the 2010 confiscation at an animal importation in the Dallas area, Gina Disteldorf lead the effort to help find homes for about 1,500 displaced reptiles and amphibians that would otherwise have been euthanized.
“The society has really increased the awareness of the population about reptiles and amphibians,” said Paul Freed, who is now a lifetime member. “In the early days, when there weren’t many places where people could go to get information, they got it here. And the society supplied care sheets to help people better care for their reptiles and amphibians.”
“We’ve nurtured the curiosity of youngsters, and some have become biologists, or vets, or zoo keepers,” David said.
“If you look at our list of goals, we’ve achieved them all,” said Russ.
And they’re not finished yet …