Presentation Title

The St. Catherines Island Sea Turtle Conservation Program: Eighteen Years of Innovation in Teacher Education

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Abstract or Description

The St. Catherines Island Sea Turtle Conservation Program has embraced innovative concepts in teaching and technology since 1990 as means to a mission of Conservation, Research, and Education. The program immerses teachers in seven days of continuous field work documenting, evaluating and conserving nests of endangered loggerhead sea turtles under the supervision and support of three geologists, a teacher education specialist, two teacher mentors and a graduate biology or veterinary science intern. Sea turtle conservation, ecology and biology are integrated with coastal geology, natural history and human history of St. Catherines Island, Georgia. Development of field notebook skills is accompanied by use of GPS for nest and crawlway location plus documentation by digital still and video photography. Digital imaging allows evening assessment of daily work, rapid accumulation of an image library and easy transfer to the classroom. Additional images, slide shows and videos are distributed at a post-nesting season meeting along with a spreadsheet of nesting data. Additional technology employed for teaching on the island ranges from simple (Geiger counters, UV lights to explore sand mineralogy) to more difficult and complex methods (vibracore and geophysical tools for stratigraphy and archaeology). The current program web site ( includes a downloadable Handbook for Sea Turtle Interns with nest assessment protocols to prepare teachers for the field experience. The site promotes a learning community of former and current participants with a daily journal, a blog, and educational links and supports development of teaching units in a follow up course. The program has been supported by Eisenhower Higher Education/Teacher Quality grants and additional Teacher Quality grants proposed for 2008 will build links with the new Georgia Sea Turtle Center and produce DVD presentations on conservation protocols and pedagogy.


Geological Society of America Annual Meeting (GSA)


Charlotte, NC

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