Thursday, January 6, 2011

New feature: Q&A with Rocio Johnson from the Sea Turtle Conservancy

This past Christmas, while reading the Cool Mom Picks 2010 Holiday Gift Guide I came across a gift suggestion in the section, "For the teen who will save the world some day" of adopting a sea turtle. As I read more about the program, I thought this would be a unique opportunity for our 4 year old son. The Adopt a Sea Turtle program is sponsored by the Sea Turtle Conservancy.

According to their website,, the "Sea Turtle Conservancy is the oldest and most accomplished sea turtle organization in the world! STC is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) membership organization based in Gainesville, Florida. STC was founded in 1959 by Mr. Joshua B. Powers in response to renowned ecologist Dr. Archie Carr's award-winning book, The Windward Road, which first alerted the world to the plight of sea turtles. Dr. Carr (pictured) served as Scientific Director of STC from 1959 until his death in 1987. Since our founding, STC's research and conservation initiatives have been instrumental in saving the Caribbean green turtle from immediate extinction, as well as raising awareness and protection for sea turtles across the globe with nearly 50 years of experience in national and international sea turtle conservation, research and educational endeavors. The organization began its work in Costa Rica, but has expanded its research and conservation efforts throughout Central America and the Wider Caribbean."

I was able to get in contact with their PR Coordinator, Rocio Johnson to answer some questions. I am hoping to have a weekly Question and Answer feature post on a person or group worth noting in 2011
Jennifer: How are the turtles that were affected by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico doing?
Rocio Johnson: The turtles affected by the oil spill were sent to rehabilitation facilities across the Gulf, including Florida. Some of the turtles rescued alive have been released back into the wild after receiving treatment, but some are still recovering under the care of turtle experts and volunteers.

Jennifer: Do you have any advice for parents who want to get their children involved in environmental conservation projects such as yours?
Rocio Johnson: Yes! Education is the key to getting children to learn about sustainability, our environment and philanthropy. Many of the children that receive turtle adoptions get excited about sea turtles and look for ways to do more. They work this enthusiasm into school projects, lemonade stands and even host birthday parties with turtle themes. Sea turtle adoptions are a great ice breaker for teaching kids about the environment. They contain tons of useful information and are also personalized, which gets kids excited and motivated about protecting our environment.

Jennifer:What can children do to help your cause?
Rocio Johnson: There are many simple actions kids can take. I’ve been in communication with an 11-year-old named Connor who is a sea turtle fan. He has done everything from saving his allowance for a donation to writing an essay to help us obtain funding for education programs. Sammy is another great kid. He’s 8-years-old and set up a lemonade (in the summer)/ hot chocolate (in the winter) stand. He raised $80 with his effort and sent us a drawing with his donation that we shared with all our members. STC is also working on starting a kid’s club, where the members help initiate different kid-oriented projects to support our cause.

Jennifer:What are some new projects your group is doing and what are you learning about the turtles?
Rocio Johnson: My favorite new project is our Lighting Program in Florida. STC is traveling across the state to coastal communities to educate them about the problem nighttime lighting poses for sea turtles during nesting season. In addition to education outreach, we received a grant to help homeowners, businesses and condominiums pay for new lights. It’s been a huge success.

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