Michelle came to us from Chattanooga, Tennessee where she earned her B.S. at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. During her four years of studies, she participated in research on the Tennessee River Gorge assessing population surveys of fresh water turtles. Through college and beyond she worked at the Tennessee Aquarium for seven years. She started out as an Educator for the Aquarium, and then became the water quality lab technician. While in school, Michelle completed a herpetology internship and an aquarist internship. After graduation, Michelle became an Aquarist, then an Aquarist II. Her background is in fresh and marine teleostei (fish) with concentrations in elasmobranches (sharks/rays) and chelonian (turtle) husbandry along with life support system operation and water quality monitoring. She is currently working toward her veterinarian technician’s license. At the Georgia Sea Turtle Center Michelle is responsible for the administrative and management duties of the veterinary staff and overseeing the day to day operation of the hospital and pavilion.
Steven Nelson, CVT
Originally from Brattleboro, Vermont, Steven attended college at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida and later transferred to the Saint Petersburg College’s School or Veterinary Technology where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Hospital Management and Clinical Care. Following graduation, Steven passed state and national examination boards to become a licensed/certified veterinary technician (CVT). As our Hospital Technician, Steven is a nurse to our patients, and aids the veterinary team in a variety of aspects including laboratory diagnostics, medical research, radiology, daily procedures and treatments, surgery preparation and monitoring, medical records, animal care/husbandry and professional training. From an early age, Steven has had a love for animals which propelled his interest in pursuing a career in conservation and wildlife medicine. He was fortunate to take advantage of some unique study abroad and internship opportunities in order to chase his dreams. While attending college, Steven studied abroad for a semester at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia focusing on zoology and field ecology within the Daintree Rainforest, Great Barrier Reef and the Tablelands of Northern Australia. Steven also spent a year at Disney’s Animal Kingdom as the Wildlife Technician Intern with the Department of Animal Health caring for a variety of animal species. After completion of this internship he was offered a part-time position as Animal Health Technician at Disney’s Living Sea’s at Epcot, he was then hired here at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center in the fall of 2009. Currently, Steven is considering several graduate degree programs and plans to obtain his Masters of Science degree before eventually attending veterinary school. He serves as an active member of the Association of Zoo Veterinary Technicians (AZVT) and is working towards his zoological technician specialty certification.
Rehabilitation Technician II
Amy Hupp was born and raised in Clinton Township, Michigan. She graduated from Albion College in Albion, Michigan in May of 2006. While in attendance at Albion, she was introduced to the marine realm and completed an independent study working with nurse sharks in the Dry Tortugas, Florida. Here, she studied various environmental and climatological factors affecting adult nurse shark mating behavior. Immediately after graduation she ventured to Shark Bay, Western Australia to help a fellow Albion graduate in studying the ecosystem of Shark Bay. It was then that she had her first interactions with both loggerhead and green sea turtles. In Shark Bay, Amy had the opportunity to capture, tag and track these two species of sea turtles. She briefly returned to Michigan following her stint in Australia and came to the GSTC in January of 2008, as an Education Intern. After four months of teaching through education programs, outreach events, and daily public interactions, she received a second internship at the GSTC to be a part of the sea turtle beach patrol. From May through September Amy lived the night life running the beaches tagging adult loggerhead sea turtles and monitoring their nests. Not even long nights on the beach could keep her away. In fact, Amy liked being a part of the GSTC and helping save sea turtles so much, that in October of 2008 she was hired full time as the newest member of the veterinary staff as a Rehabilitation Technician I. You can now see her behind the glass helping with treatments and running blood samples, as well as in the rehabilitation pavilion maintaining tank systems, preparing diets and helping with all other aspects of animal husbandry.
Rehabilitation Technician II
Rachel hails from Boalsburg, PA. She graduated from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania with a degree in Environmental Science. During the summer following her junior year she completed an internship at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. It was during her experience there that she discovered her passion for sea turtles and their conservation. That was also when she discovered the newly opened Georgia Sea Turtle Center. After graduation she completed two husbandry internships and was then hired on as temporary/relief staff. Rachel then made the transition to permanent staff as a Rehabilitation Technician I in September of 2009. Her responsibilities include helping with treatments and running blood samples, as well as in the rehabilitation pavilion maintaining tank systems, preparing diets and helping with all other aspects of animal husbandry.
Rehabilitation Technician I
Rachel Sommer grew up in Plant City, FL. Her love for the ocean and its creatures began at a very young age. It was this love that led her to attend Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers Beach, FL where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Marine Science with minors in Biology and Interdisciplinary Studies. It was during a college field trip to the Florida Keys where she had hands on experience rehabilitating a pantropical spotted dolphin named Moonshine that she knew rescue and rehabilitation was her calling. After college she began volunteering with local organizations, such as Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Research and Conservation Program and the Sea Turtle and Marine Mammal departments at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, in order to gain some experience in this demanding field. During this time she also had a field-related job with Mote as a fisheries technician. Following the year long position with Mote she became a member of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center family in 2010 as an AmeriCorps Night Patrol Member, where she witnessed her first nesting loggerhead female and her first “boil.” After that summer she remained at the GSTC as a Husbandry Member and learned proper rehabilitation procedures and all about medications used in rehabilitation. She completed her AmeriCorps service in the summer of 2012 as a Research member working on the beach during night patrols, tagging turtles, and dawn patrols, monitoring and managing nests. It was in September of 2012 that she joined our Vet staff team as a Rehabilitation Technician 1. Her responsibilities include assisting with treatments and running blood samples, as well as maintaining tank systems in the pavilion, preparing diets, and helping with all other aspects of animal husbandry.