Matt with a Pueblan Milk Snake. 2021
Everything that I do, I do because I sincerely believe it will help contribute to the betterment of snakes, which is my ultimate goal and ambition! Snakes are the focal point of my life. There is not a day that goes by that I am not doing something snake related, whether it’s presenting educational lectures on snake preservation, writing articles, giving interviews, or partaking in other snake endeavors. - Matt Ellerbeck
For over 16 years, Matt Ellerbeck has been advocating for snake preservation. This is of little surprise, since Matt has always loved snakes. Since his early childhood, he has spent every moment he could in swamps, fields, and forests hoping to share some of his time with these interesting creatures. Over the years, Matt has spent time with thousands and thousands of snakes including rattlesnakes, cobras, boa constrictors, pythons, and rear-fanged colubrids.
Due to his growing concern over declining snake populations, and the cruelty that snakes receive, Matt launched a snake advocacy & preservation initiative in 2005.
He has since given hundreds of presentations and lectures on snakes to help educate people about these reptiles and the need for their conservation. He uses these educational events to promote co-existence with snakes, and encourages actions that individuals can take to help contribute to the preservation of these animals (i.e behavioral changes, environmental stewardship, and habitat/land management).
During such presentations, Matt uses rescued snakes as animal ambassadors.
A photo of Matt that was featured in Within Kingston magazine.
This include presentations for the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority, the Thousand Islands National Park, The GreenUP Environmental Festivals, King's Town Private School, St. Lawrence College, and Queen's University (for Environmental Education students).
To further bring his message to the public, Matt has often appeared in media across Canada and the United States. He has frequently been featured on TV, Radio Shows, and in newspapers. This includes large profile shows like Talking Animals, which airs in Tampa, Florida. The guests featured on this show tend to be prominent figures in the animal world, or notable celebrities who have ties to animal welfare. Past guests have included Jane Goodall, Chrissie Hynde, Paul Watson, Janeane Garofalo, Moby, Margaret Cho, and many others. Matt was also featured on Animals Today radio, which airs across 17 states, and on CiTR 101 FM, which provides listening to a base of over 2 million.
A selection of newspapers featuring Matt's snake advocacy efforts.
He made his European media debut in summer 2010 when he appeared on Wild Time Radio, which is an animal rights/world conservation magazine show which airs across Dublin City. Matt has also written numerous articles on snakes. His articles have appeared in conservation and animal-related publications, newspapers, magazines, and various other mediums. These include articles for the Amphibian Voice (the official newsletter of the Adopt-A-Pond program of the Toronto Zoo), the official publication of the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority, the Kingston Field Naturalist's Blue Bill publication, Voices For Animals Humane Society and many more.
Below is a timeline featuring some highlights of Matt's Snake Advocacy efforts:
In 2005, after Matt hosted a myriad of snake conservation events, the Little Cat Creek Conservation Area presented him with a special honorarium-award to recognize his dedication to snake conservation.
Matt giving a snake presentation while Cogeco TV films for a television segment. 2005.
In 2006, even more snake conservation presentations were given to further raise awareness for these animals and their conservation. This includes presentations for Desert Lake Resort, local kids clubs, and more. Hundreds of tickets for his presentation as the Isabel Turner Library in Kingston, were gone within 9 minutes of becoming available. He was also featured on CKWS News.
Matt presenting on snake conservation at St. Lawrence Islands National Park. 2006.
In 2007, he was aptly described as "so full of enthusiasm, he looks like he will burst at any moment" by the South Frontenac Natural Environmental Committee, in reference to his passionate presentations. Highlights include talking to hundreds of people about snakes at an event hosted by the Sandy Pines Wildlife Center and more presentations at the Cat Creek Conservation Area (promoted with the tagline Back By Popular Demand).
Newspaper clipping featuring Matt. 2007.
In 2008, alongside his media appearances and snake presentations, Matt produced an educational fact sheet on snakes entitled, The Truth About Snake Bites. The objective of the resource was to help alleviate people's fears and hatred of snakes, which should help decrease the number of snakes directly killed by people. Throughout 2008 over 1,100 copies of The Truth About Snake Bites were distributed throughout the Thousand Islands Region. The resource also ran as an article in several newspapers and publications.
The same year he made two donations to the Black Rat Snake Project at Murphy's Point Provincial Park, which is an ongoing fundraising effort to monitor the park's unique Black Rat Snake population and to educate the public about this important threatened species. 2008 also saw information about Matt and his snake work be featured in the book Aware: Webster's Quotations, Facts and Phrases (Inc Icon Group International).
Matt helping a Rat Snake across the road (so the snake wouldn't get run over). 2008.
In 2009, Matt was one of the featured speakers for the Queen's University School of Environmental Studies Seminar Series. Matt's presentation featured information largely about the exploitation and cruelty snakes receive from rattlesnake roundups. This would mark his second talk at Queen's University.
Newspaper article on Matt's snake advocacy work. 2009.
In 2010, Matt started giving weekly displays on snake conservation (appearing several days a week) at the Kingston Sustainability Centre. These displayed reached hundreds of people weekly. Snake conservation events at many other venues continued as well. During this time Matt was nominated for a Green Globe Award in recognition of his efforts to protect and conserve snakes. The awards were presented by the Commerce and Engineering Environmental Conference. The same year he was named a visionary by Within Kingston Magazine. As part of the designation, the magazine's May 2010 issue featured an article about Matt's work as a snake advocate and conservationist.
97.9 FM News story about Matt's snake efforts. 2010.
In 2011 through to the start of 2012, an even bigger emphasis was made in terms of Outreach Education, and Matt presented legions of snake conservation presentations and workshops. This includes a large event in London, Ontario that drew hundreds of people and media attention.
A Smooth Earth Snake that Matt photographed. 2013.
In 2012 (and through the next several years), Matt's snake efforts were focused on collecting observational records and data on these reptiles in their natural habitats. Over the years, he literally observed (and spent time with) thousands of snakes in the wild. This included many trips to the Southern United States. However, he still took the time to educate the public on snake conservation at various events during this period, including at the Wintergreen Nature Studios and the Mazinaw Lakeside Resort.
Matt educating students on snakes at the Wintergreen Nature Studios. 2017.
In 2018, Matt decided to shift more focus back on outreach education. Some highlights from that year include snake conservation presentations for the Mac Johnson Wildlife Area, Quinte Conservation Area, and the Brockville SPCA Critter Camp. In 2019, Matt continued to focus his attention on education to promote snake conservation and co-existence. Some highlights for 2019 include presentations for the St. Lawrence River Institute for Environmental Sciences, the Frontenac Arc Biosphere Camp, the Nature's Explorer's Camp, and many more!
Matt teaching people about snake advocacy at the Quinte Conservation Area. 2018.
2019 and 2020 both saw an increase in outreach education and media appearances, to promote snake preservation. This includes (but is not limited to) spots in the Alabama.com news, the Recorder & Times, the Perry Sound North Star newspaper, Ontario Out of Doors magazine, Toronto Zoo's Adopt-A-Pond program and workshops for the Wintergreen Nature Studios and Mac Johnson Wildlife Area.
One of Matt's snake articles, featured in the Perry Sound North Star. 2019.
In 2021, he appeared in the Frontenac News, the Toronto Star, the South Point Sun, and on CBC's Top Rated Radio Program (among many more). Matt gave presentations for the Rotary Club, Naturalist Groups, and appeared on the Conservation Conversation. Furthermore, his social media page regularly reached over 100,000 people - and content was shared by dozens of groups & organizations around the world. Supporters across the globe sent in positive feedback.
Feature on Matt's snake advocacy work in the South Point Sun. 2021.
Matt is committed to continuing his efforts to contribute to the preservation and betterment of snakes!