Meet Rocky, a live hellbender, at Champions for Wildlife’s free event on May 4

Published 12:27 pm Thursday, April 18, 2024

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TRYON—Champions for Wildlife has announced it will host its first free kids event on Saturday, May 4 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Harmon Field Log Cabin. This family-oriented program will focus on hellbenders, an incredible local native species. 

These amphibians are a type of salamander, but they’re set apart mainly by their size—they grow up to 2.5 feet long. Hellbenders are the largest salamanders in the United States! 

Learn why we rarely see these animals in our streams and why we want to protect them. Hellbenders dwell under rocks and often choose one rock to live under for their entire lives, which can be up to 30 years. Unfortunately, their population is vulnerable due to habitat loss and stream degradation. 

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At this Wild for Hellbenders event, kids and their families will be able to meet Rocky, a live hellbender. He is under the care of Lori Williams, a wildlife biologist at the NC Wildlife Resource Commission. In addition to a presentation by our educators, participants will be able to speak to Lori about her work with hellbenders. 

Champions for Wildlife is all about animals and art, so everyone, including parents, will get to sculpt their very own hellbender from clay at the event. Staff and volunteers will be available to help whenever needed. Light refreshments will be served. Registration is limited and filling up fast, so please follow the link,, to sign up for a fun morning of art and learning.

Champions for Wildlife is grateful for the generosity and support of the Polk County Community Foundation for making this free event possible. With their help, Champions for Wildlife will have two more Wild for Art events this summer featuring other native wildlife species.