Before we start with our coverage of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, the most important part of our visit was the staff, and we want to mention them each by name, as they deserve the first thanks!
(Article continued below names)
Michelle Kaylor-Director Georgia Sea Turtle Center
Terry Norton-Director of Veterinary Services and Wildlife Health
Ben Carswell- Director of Conservation and Sustainability
Davide Zailo-Sea Turtle Research Specialist
Nicki Thomas-Education Programs Manager
Anna Taylor-Educator II
Celeste Rivenbark-Educator I
Katie Mascovich-Educator I
Rachel Overmeyer-Rehabilitation Manager
Stephanie Stowell-Hospital Technician II
Jamie Gamby- Rehabilitation Technician I
Katie Dixon-Rehabilitation Technician I
Mikayla Siesto- Rehabilitation Technician I
Lauren Pacheco-AmeriCorps and Volunteer Program Manager
Traci Melton – Membership and Reservation Manager
Loving dogs has always been a part of who I am. But I could have never imagined that my love of dogs would take me to the places it has. And I could have never imagined that my love of dogs would lead me to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center in Jekyll Island, Georgia. But here I am.
You can cuddle with a dog, talk to a dog, and you can make your dog (or two) the center of your life like I have. But sea turtles? Would I love them just as much??
We have traveled full-time in our RV with Peanut Butter Brickle and Digby Pancake for over five years now. We have visited countless shelters and animal rescues. But this year and next, we are thrilled to partner with Good Sam and this was one of our first Good Sam Givebacks.
The appreciation for all animals and the role they play in our environment and life will be the center of our focus, and we want to show that individuals like sea turtles deserve our love and attention too.
No, we can’t cuddle with, or have a relationship with sea turtles like we do with our dogs. But we want you to take a moment to learn about them, the people that take care of them, and what the Georgia Sea Turtle Center can teach you about yourself.
Have you beat the odds in your life? Maybe you fought a disease or illness. Maybe you lived thru abuse or loss of a loved one. When you visit the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and you meet the patients and people there, we can guarantee that one of their stories will inspire you and encourage you like Minkus!
Nikki Thomas, Education Programs Manager, told us that the best part of her job is seeing young and old alike see themselves in the sea turtles. She said so many come in because of a love for animals. But after their visit, seeing the animals that have beat the odds like they have make them feel more valued and encouraged. Yes, turtles can do that!
When we first contacted the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, Michelle Kaylor, Director of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center told us how hard the staff worked day and night. We wanted to focus our Giveback not only on learning about their jobs, but learning about them as individuals. As they were in need of waterproof, durable shoes, Good Sam made it possible to donate shoes for every staff member!
Michelle is absolutely where she is meant to be. To see her sing the praises of the staff here and how much they mean to her and to this island was heartwarming. Each of the staff talked to us outside for over an hour as we encouraged each other to keep trying to make a difference. Isn’t it amazing the bond that those who care for all animals have?
The facility was also in need of an ice machine for staff and regulating sea turtle temperatures! Good Sam also generously had a new ice machine delivered to their door!
The staff, including Dr. Terry Norton, met us on the historic grounds outside the facility. We got to know Dr. Norton very well over the few days that we were there. With a steady hand and a calm demeanor, the patients in his care are calm as well. We sensed that they knew they were being helped. The staff follows Dr. Norton’s direction and we were so impressed with not only the kindness and dedication they showed to the animals, but the respect to each other as well.
We told them how much we appreciated all their hard work and for the impact they are making for their community and island. Their work goes beyond care. Their work includes environmental initiatives and monitoring wildlife as well.
In short, the work at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center never ends. But this is some of the happiest and inspiring staff we have ever met on our travels. Each of the staff was more than happy to talk to us, show us around, and spent hours and days making sure we were educated on sea turtles and the island that they treasure.
When we were asked to meet Libby and Will at sunrise to help excavate a sea turtle nest, we more than jumped at the chance!
We learned how the nests are monitored, protected and surveyed.
This particular sea turtle nest had already hatched and each egg was checked and logged. Expectant adoptive parents eagerly await the announcement of hatchlings! We shared their excitement and were so honored to take part in this once in a lifetime experience.
Our visit to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center was an experience that is truly hard to put into words, even though I am a writer. I immediately felt that I had to learn more about sea turtles. I immediately knew I had to help more in small ways. The Georgia Sea Turtle Center emphasizes the importance of “ripple effects.” They educate students on the importance of recycling, collecting marine debris, and how to truly respect animals This will no doubt make an impact for generations to come beyond this island.
If you have never visited Jekyll Island, Georgia, add it to your list. Make travel plans around volunteering opportunities on your travel and making a difference.
Ride a bike to the historic mansions and restaurants.
Grab a coffee at the Jekyll Island Club.
Buy your dog some ice cream at the Island Sweets Shoppe.
Let traveling guide you to make a difference and learn. We can all “be good and do good”, like Good Sam says. If you have not looked at a sea turtle in person, you will be in awe after visiting the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. Ask the staff your questions, learn, explore, stay awhile.
Visiting Jekyll Island is a step back in time.