Lake Forest students enjoyed a first look Feb. 24 at the new wetlands exhibits in the Killens Pond Nature Center.


Lake Forest students get first crack at new wetlands exhibit in Killens Pond Nature Center

Amanda Gaglione’s fifth-grade class were the first to see a brand-new exhibit showcasing the reptiles and amphibians that live in Delaware wetlands at Killens Pond Nature Center on Feb. 24.

“It’s great for the kids to see,” Gaglione said. “They just learned about ecologies in their science class and this is a chance for them to see and interact with everything they’re learning about, and see how amazing these creatures are that they can find right down the road from their school.”

The exhibit features five live animals, all behind glass: a barking tree frog, bog turtle, copperhead snake, five-lined skink and Eastern tiger salamander. The copperhead, the only poisonous snake native to the state, lies so still it could almost be part of the landscape, but when the Spartans visited it was the most popular creature in the room by far.

“Just from the noise I heard out in the parking lot, I could tell the kids were having a great time,” said Charles Salkin, director of the state division of parks and recreation.

Side-by-side with the animals themselves are displays and video presentations on their cousins and the wetlands where the creatures make their home. Many of those setups are interactive, including a mockup of a bog with frogs, a snake, and fish that play sounds and cue up new information when children touch them. One of the video monitors is a touch screen students can use to answer questions and get more details on the most interesting topics.

“We want to give kids a variety of ways to learn something that we here already know — that there are so many great things all across the state and all across Kent County,” said Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Collin O’Mara.

Department officials also hope to show children how much there is to do outside. O’Mara points to the new Killens Pond exhibit as part of a push to show children in Delaware the wonders of the natural world.

“That really is a critical focus of mine, to get more kids outside and have an opportunity to have fun,” he said. “We want to have no child left inside.”

Staffers showed off other features of the park’s new nature center such as a lab for classroom and camp use on the bottom floor and a state-of-the-art set of conservation features, including rainwater collection and geothermal heating and cooling.

“It’s a wonder,” O’Mara said.

Killens Pond State Park is located at 5025 Killens Pond Road, in Felton. For more information on the nature center, call 284-4299.


David LaRoss is a staff writer for the Milford Beacon, a sister paper to the Dover Post. Email him at