For years, as my friends and family can attest, I had been dreaming of volunteering with a sea turtle conservation organization. When I turned 40, I decided that it was finally time to make this dream come true. It did and in a BIG way!
…Holding my first hatchling….the surprise at the strength of these newborns…the awe of watching a female hawksbill lay her eggs…the thrill of burying her eggs safely in a hatchery. I learned that her nest became my nest, and I am proudly awaiting the news of tens of hatchlings arriving in the weeks to come.
…Sitting at a bar in Padre Ramos with my feet in the sand and my fingers typing on a computer putting together a brochure promoting the organization’s tours and volunteer opportunities (both of which provide money to support the turtle conservation efforts). I learned that I could put my writing skills to work for a cause I care about.
….Caring for turtles not only means late nights and early mornings; it also means sleeping in a hammock! I learned to be open to new things.
…Awaking one morning at daybreak by the familiar sounds of hundreds of tiny flippers against the blue bucket in which they are placed upon hatching. As a huge smile came across my face, I realized it was time to release them into the estuary. I could think of nothing I would rather be doing in that moment than helping amazing turtle hatchlings find their way to the ocean. I learned to be open to unexpected joy.
I had been a volunteer before, but this experience was on a completely different level. For those who are passionate about a cause, like I am about sea turtle conservation, I highly recommend it. You get intimate exposure and the opportunity to understand the issues and solutions. The immersive experience is one of the best ways to learn, and, now, I can be an even more dedicated advocate.
Learn how you can volunteer at a hawksbill conservation project site.