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The Murray State News

New telehealth counseling option set for fall
New telehealth counseling option set for fall
Bri Hunter, Editor in Chief • May 14, 2024

The University is extending on-campus mental health services for the next academic year through a company called TimelyCare.  TimelyCare...

PHOTOS: Baseball sweeps Valpo in last home series
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Rebeca Mertins Chiodini, Photo Editor • May 14, 2024

The Racers swept the Valparaiso Beacons in their last home series of the season. With these three wins the Racers move into a 34-18 record...

New telehealth counseling option set for fall
New telehealth counseling option set for fall
Bri Hunter, Editor in Chief • May 14, 2024

The University is extending on-campus mental health services for the next academic year through a company called TimelyCare.  TimelyCare...

PHOTOS: Baseball sweeps Valpo in last home series
PHOTOS: Baseball sweeps Valpo in last home series
Rebeca Mertins Chiodini, Photo Editor • May 14, 2024

The Racers swept the Valparaiso Beacons in their last home series of the season. With these three wins the Racers move into a 34-18 record...

Murray State’s wildlife vlogger ‘reptile guy’ goes viral

Sam+Schilli+holding+a+thumbs+up+next+to+a+snake.+
Sam Schilli holding a thumbs up next to a snake.

Plenty of college students scroll through TikTok every day, but how many can say that one of those viral videos was made by their classmate?

Sam Schilli is a sophomore wildlife education major from southern Illinois. For the past year, he has uploaded informative animal content to TikTok. Though he started out with green screen filters and google images, Schilli has taken a hands-on approach to educating his viewers this year. Between a summer internship in a Texas reptile sanctuary, Murray State’s Biology Building and our proximity to the Land Between the Lakes, he has found access to live examples of how amazing wildlife can be.

A photo of Schilli holding a corn snake from a TikTok video.

Schilli’s account, animal__advocacy, has gained attention around campus. Students have approached him, recognizing him as “the reptile guy on TikTok.” For him, these interactions are a good sign that his content is helping educate people. 

“Whenever people are approaching me saying, ‘Hey are you that reptile guy,’ the thing that goes through my head is, ‘Oh cool, they’ve seen the videos. That means they’re seeing that these animals aren’t that bad,'” Schilli said.

In the Land Between the Lakes, Schilli primarily meets reptiles and amphibians. He finds small common creatures like green frogs, redbelly snakes, and prairie lizards that live under logs and rocks. As a well educated and careful biology student, Schilli has encountered larger, less docile creatures like copperhead snakes and snapping turtles. Unfortunately, misconceptions about these creatures are very widespread. Venomous snakes are often attacked, and habitats are disturbed without proper care. Even well-meaning people can make mistakes, like putting non-aquatic Eastern box turtles in water.

“I try to say this in every single snake video I post, but I always say the word friend,” Schilli said. “I want to make people think snakes are our friends because they really are.”

From reading about Orcas in second grade to making videos with copperheads on the weekends, his passion for wildlife conservation has directed his plans for the future. He finds inspiration in content from figures like zoologist Steve Irwin, who have also spent their days showing the world many fascinating and misunderstood animals around the world. 

“If I can spend my life traveling around, finding different animals and telling people about them, in my opinion that’s a good life spent.”

 

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About the Contributor
Gray Hawkins
Gray Hawkins, Staff writer
Gray Hawkins is a freshman journalism major. They enjoy writing, reading, listening to some music and playing D&D. Some of their favorite book series are: The Inheritance Cycle, Six of Crows and Percy Jackson and the Olympians. They spend most of their time in the dorm with their ESA bearded dragon, Monarch.

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