As our Americorps year is beginning to wind down to a close, I’ve been reflecting on all of the things I’ve learned through my service at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center as an Education Member. There have been so many wonderful memories that I will carry with me throughout my life, but there are a few things that I’ve learned the most:
1) Patience! Turtles aren’t always the speediest of animals in either their movements or their recovery. Patience at the G.S.T.C. is a must, no matter which department you work in. In education, we spend our days retelling the stories of our turtle patients and educating many school groups and guests about sea turtles and conservation. We’ve had many long and busy days here at the center as we work hard to get the word out about these amazing animals, but in the end it makes us feel closer to our turtles and closer to our public and supporters. Most of all, you can’t ever beat that satisfied feeling when, after months of dedication to a turtle patient, we can celebrate as it makes its way back to the ocean for a second chance at life.
2) There is no greater joy than inspiring a child to care about turtles (or nature in general). The most enjoyable time of this past year has been when I could sit on the floor with a child and let them touch turtle shells and other specimen as we talked for a long time. Young children are so excited to learn, and it has been a great joy to have the privilege of being the one who can help a child understand how amazing these creatures are.
3) Love of nature can bring all kinds of people together. As the G.S.T.C. has grown in popularity over the four short years that it’s been open, we’ve had the honor of meeting people from all over the world. It’s been so much fun meeting new people every day, hearing their stories, and having them enjoy ours. Conservation can be hard work, but it’s so easy to love your job when you enjoy what you’re doing. I’m so grateful to our guests for making this job so amazing!
4) Never be afraid to be silly! Conservation isn’t just about rescuing animals and releasing them back into the wild. It’s also about talking to the public, inspiring people to care, and connecting with others. Being here at the G.S.T.C. has taught me to never take myself too seriously. I’ve worn a terrapin mask on my forehead, played silly games with kids, and laughed at myself much too often. Conservation requires you to be real, to show your passion for nature, and therefore show a little bit of your true colors. This position not only taught me so much about turtles and education, but about myself as well.
5) Live each and every moment! I’ve tried very hard to soak in each and every day at the G.S.T.C. Guests always comment about how lucky I am to have this opportunity, and I never wanted to take it for granted. This year has flown by so quickly, but focusing on each guest I talk to, each turtle I work with, and each moment of work, good and bad, has provided me with so many wonderful memories. From the beginning, I knew that this internship would be a wonderful experience, but because of our wonderful guests, our amazing staff at the center, and especially my fellow Americorps Members, this year has been one that I will never forget. An even greater passion for turtles, and for people, has been inspired in me that will remain for the rest of my life.
Americorps Education Member