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Meet Jessica Godwin: snake charmer

Waldorf College

Forest City, IA – Jessica Godwin swiftly walks toward Waldorf College’s biology lab on a Tuesday morning. It’s time to clean up Naven, one of her most important responsibilities on campus.

A sophomore majoring in biology, Godwin has been the official caretaker of Naven, a red-tailed boa, since the beginning of this year. Her duties include cleaning up the snake’s cage in Waldorf’s biology lab after she eats, which is once every two weeks, and letting her out on the tables of the lab for a change of atmosphere.

“She’s really calm,” described Godwin. “She won’t strike you when you take her out of the cage. But you have to watch out, just in case.”

In a zoology class last fall, Dr. Paul Bartelt, associate professor of biology at Waldorf College, brought Naven out for the class to observe. While most of her classmates cringed, Godwin stepped forward and started to pet Naven.

“She is not vicious,” said Godwin who is originally from Las Vegas, Nev. “She sits on the heating rock most of the times and is very mellow.”

Dr. Bartelt has been very pleased with Godwin’s performance so far. “I picked Jessica because she showed so much interest and enthusiasm for Naven,” said Dr. Bartelt. “Jessica has shown good care in handling her.”

Though she has grown very fond of her job, Godwin has no plans of pursuing this as a profession. “I have two dogs back at home, so I like animals. But this is more like a hobby,” she said. “We had a snake when I was little. My brother and sister would hold it, but I would not even pet it. And now I’m a snake keeper.”