Vermont herpetology enthusiast looks for financial help

Published: Feb. 14, 2019 at 11:49 AM EST
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"We have a bunch of hardy herpers here, trying to find you amphibian larvae -- or adult," said Vermont Herp Atlas' Jim Andrews, in a new GoFundMe video.

For 25 years, the Vermont Herp Atlas has been quietly keeping track of the state's reptiles and amphibians. Now for the first time, they're asking the public for financial help.

Three to four times a winter, volunteers with the group go out to look under the ice for the creepy crawly critters the rest of us forget exist. On this day, it's a lungless salamander, one of 40 of Vermont's reptiles and amphibians.

"It's taking in oxygen from that really, really cold water," said Andrews, the project's coordinator.

The 65-year-old Salisbury resident has run the atlas since 1994. But in his 25 years, he's never had to make a video like this before, asking for money to replace nearly $12,000 in lost federal funding. It's a big hit to their roughly $37,000 annual budget.

He's hoping a bit of humor and education will convince people their work is worth a few bucks. Money raised pays for data gathering, outreach and education. Andrews says it's also time to digitize paper records, photos and slides.

"No one is going to want those in the future, and the whole idea is to get all of our data in an electronic form," Andrews said.

He says he's optimistic some of the funding may crawl back in next year, and is hoping by this spring to have enough raised to continue their work.