| SEA TURTLE – Martin Middle School teachers Krystle Smith and Tina Coleman attended a sea turtle teacher workshop on Sapelo Island, Ga., this summer. |
Not all teachers take a break during their summer break. Tina Coleman and Krystle Smith, teachers at Martin Middle School, recently completed a four-day sea turtle workshop on Georgia’s Sapelo Island. The Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve (SINERR) offered the training as part of its teacher training series. Participants in the training were exposed to various aspects of sea turtle conservation, management and research. Activities and topics included GPS tracking, embryonic development, hatchling necropsies, special senses of sea turtles, and the life history of and conservation efforts related to the Diamondback Terrapin. Participants who took late-night walks along the beach witnessed a turtle crawl where a loggerhead sea turtle mother dug and laid its nest. On the final day, educators visited the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island and enjoyed a behind-the-scenes look at the program to learn about how the center rehabilitates its sea turtle patients.
Coleman, a science teacher, says, “Sea turtles have always been a passion of mine. In fact, I use them when I teach classification to my eighth graders.” Smith teaches science and geography, and was especially interested in an activity at the workshop where participants used GPS devices to track each other’s movements, just as researchers track the movements of sea turtles.
Both women agree that the highlight of the workshop happened during one of the late-night turtle walks when they discovered a nesting loggerhead sea turtle. “We were the ones who found the turtle,” says Smith. We were walking along and we were just talking, and we had walked nearly all the way to the end of the beach, and I looked down, and I saw the tracks,” she says. “We took the flashlight and looked, and there was the turtle! So, we got really excited about it and flashed out lights to let everyone know what we had found. Then the joke was that the Tennessee girls, of all people, found the turtle,” she continued.
Workshop coordinator Georgia Graves gathers engaging presenters and offers daily hands-on activities for the teachers who attend the SINERR workshop. “The goal of this workshop is for educators to take away an
appreciation for the complexity, organization, and intelligence of animals that we often take for granted,” says workshop coordinator Georgia Graves. “If our teachers pass that appreciation on to their students, the goal of this workshop will be met.”
SINERR offers a series of teacher training workshops throughout the year for groups of 10-25 people. Programs, which run 2-5 days, are held on Sapelo Island and incorporate educational resources, field based learning activities, and lecture sessions. Workshop topics include coastal ecology, sea turtle conservation, marine mammals, Georgia shorebirds, and marine science research. Continuing education credits are available for participants. For information on how you can be involved with our teacher training programs, please contact the Education Office (912) 485-2300. More information on the Reserve can be found at www.sapelonerr.org.