'They're creepy and they're crawly ... '

  • Published
  • By Heidi Hunt
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
More than 85 children and parents visited the Community Activity Center for its presentation of snakes and spiders at this Air Force Global Strike Command base, Dec. 4.

Nicknamed snake lady, Connie Koch, 509th Force Support Squadron community center director and spider-man, Maj. KJ Vezino, 72nd Test and Evaluation Squadron chief engineer, combined efforts in sharing their live snakes and spiders during their second year of working together.

Organized by the duo, many children have referred to them as superheroes who bring their creatures up close and personal and provide an educational presentation.

"The neat thing about this event is that people come in so frightened, but then sometimes cannot help but touch or hold a snake or spider," said Mrs. Koch. "It really helps gets them over that phobia."

The audience was taught about snakes and spider species, where they come from, how and what they eat, the anatomy, defense mechanisms and molting.

Ethan Himes, age 5, son of Jamie and Staff Sgt. Nick Himes, 509th Bomb Wing command post, said he had fun and really enjoyed the snakes and spiders presentation.

"My favorite snake was the red, black and white one," he said. "It was really neat."

Major Vezino has been handling spiders for more than nine years and keeps nine spiders at home. Major Vezino started studying and researching spiders when he was in college and since then has shown his spiders in the local area.

Mrs. Koch has been handling snakes for more than 30 years and keeps 10 snakes in her residence. She has traveled throughout Central Missouri showcasing her reptiles and enjoys what she does.

The pair said the day went smoothly and they plan to hold another presentation in the future for Team Whiteman.