North Phoenix resident has passion for conservation through education of children and teens

Position made possible through grant from Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust

Crystie Baker has joined the staff of the Phoenix Herpetological Society (PHS) as Education Director.

Her position is funded through a grant from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust. Baker comes to PHS from the Mississippi Museum of National Science in Jackson, Miss., where she was a Conservation Biologist in Outreach Education for nearly seven years.

The North Phoenix resident says she is excited to be joining PHS because of its focus on education.

“I very much believe in the organization’s phrase ‘Conservation begins with Education,’ and I am looking forward to expanding their education program and pushing it to the next level,” says Baker. “One of the most rewarding parts of my job is teaching children about a misunderstood creature, such as a snake or alligator, and seeing the changes in their faces and their thinking as they learn the importance of these animals in our world. Education, both formal and informal, is such a driving force in conservation efforts, and PHS embraces this wholeheartedly.”

Baker has a Master’s Degree in Science Education from the University of Southern Mississippi and is completing her PhD. She has developed and conducted education programs such as Camp WILD for the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, and was recognized as the 2013 Mississippi Project WILD Facilitator of the Year, awarded by the Council for Environmental Education and the Project WILD National Office. She also has experience handling animals including snakes, turtles, frogs, salamanders and American alligators, and participated in wild animal capture and recovery after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

PHS is home to nearly 1,700 native and exotic reptiles, many of them endangered. Animals include snakes, lizards such as green iguanas and Asian monitors, alligators, crocodiles, desert and Galapagos tortoises, turtles and more. A glass-enclosed venom room houses the largest collection of venomous snakes in the western United States, with 82 species and subspecies.