Events and Outreach!

Tomorrow is actually my first day to start the Fishing program with the public, so this blog will be about different events I’ve been apart of as a substitute. During my time here, I’ve done: Reading with a Ranger, Texas State Aquarium Sea Camps, USPS Stamp Dedication Ceremony, GLO Coastal Roundup, and Turtle Hatchling Release.

Reading with a Ranger:

Usually Reading with A Ranger is led by Park Ranger Sara but that day she wasn’t able to attend so my supervisor and I covered for her. Since my supervisor and I both live close by the library, it made sense for us to go. Plus, I planned to get a library card afterwards. Sara gave us her program outline and briefed us over the book about Monarch migration. I don’t know too much about monarch migration and my supervisor is the same way, so we “winged it” (pun intended). The library we went to is currently undergoing construction and is probably the loudest library I have ever gone to. Thankfully the kids were very much in tune with us and didn’t mind the noise. My supervisor read the book and my role was to reenact the butterfly cycle. Getting the kids moving and acting like butterflies was so silly. Especially the “egg” phase, where everyone was just rolling around for some reason. Afterwards they had so many questions and they all shared some of their favorite butterfly experiences. One little girl had a butterfly theme birthday and showed us her pictures. Overall, very cute and a fun read. Also got my library card!

Texas State Aquarium Sea Camps:

For the past 4 Tuesdays, Sara and I have been heading to the Texas State Aquarium to teach kids how to excavate Kemp’s Ridleys turtle eggs. All but the last one has been outside the aquarium, located at the beach nearby. We get there early to dig “nests” and bury “eggs” (ping pong balls). We create a pair of “turtle tracks” (literally just dragging a shovel) at each nest to the ocean. Then we wait in the humidity until the kids arrive with their educators. We introduce ourselves and talk about the demonstration we will be doing. As the kids look for the nest we walk them through the training biologists do when excavating turtle eggs. Each kid is given a different role, and they switch once the digger has found 5 eggs. Since they’re younger, they usually like to dig and use the clicker to count the eggs. Even though the nests have 31 and 33 eggs, somehow, they count 54 eggs in one and 27 in another. Where they find the extra eggs is beyond me, but they have fun until they find out the eggs are fake, and they think we lied to them. One kid told us they learned to never trust park rangers again, it was pretty funny. Yet, they tell us thank you at the end as their coordinators make them say it.

USPS Stamp Dedication Ceremony:

After one of the Sea Camps, we were invited to join the USPS Stamp Dedication Ceremony.

The aquarium was barely opening at this time and the ceremony was still in prep, so we were able to walk around in the quiet looking at the tanks. Pretty peaceful moment before the pretty hectic event. We headed to the meeting room and got ready for the ceremony. This ceremony was to commemorate 6 new stamps the US Postal Service have made to boost awareness of the 6 endangered sea turtles found in the US. One of the stamps was a picture of Daisy, a Kemp’s Ridley turtle found there at the aquarium. It was a short event, but many organizations and groups joined (NOAA, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Coast Guard, US Fish and Wildlife, etc). Speeches were spoken before the reveal with one by the park’s superintendent. He spoke about how the park continues to push the topic of conservation and protection of all local wildlife. It reminded me why I’m here and made me think of the next step after this internship. Before we left, I was gifted a stamp pin and bought a stamp poster.

Texas GLO COASTAL ROUND UP:

This was a full day, offsite event. GLO stands for General Land Office, which is the organization that hosted this event. There were also a lot of organizations here too, it was a decent sized event. Different research, science, and wildlife groups had table set ups with all sorts of stuff. There was a beetle missing a leg, oyster shells, a robot dog, coast guard boat, food trucks, and giveaways. I didn’t win any but I enjoyed talking to attendees about our park. Our setup had a small PLNCO trash game, turtle artifacts, coyote fur, pamphlets and ranger books for the kids. Throughout the event, I noticed that a lot of people didn’t know our park even existed despite the majority of attendees were locals. I was happy to let them know about the park and all the cool animals I see there. Some people have actually come by the park from that event, so that’s a win.

Turtle Hatchling Release:

The release happened today actually! It was kind of crazy today. People from different park departments all had to come early for the release. I live off site, so I had to wake up even earlier to get to work. Driving at 5 am on an undeveloped island was spooky. Blackout darkness with sand dunes on either side, with just the smallest light from the moon. Then when I arrived at the Visitor Center, I immediately got attacked by the biggest mosquitoes I’ve ever seen. Walking in, everyone was running around and getting everything prepared. I was in charge of the artifact station, so I gathered my stuff before I went to greet visitors. So many people were walking in, coming from different parts of the US. They were all very excited as the last hatchling release was canceled. When the release began, I went down to watch the baby Kemp’s Ridley turtles make their way across the shore. Seeing so many little black blobs while the sun rose was a beautiful moment. Afterwards I ran back up to my station and talked to kids about Kemp Ridley facts and the real, turtle skeleton pieces we have here. They especially enjoyed the Kemp’s shell we had out and were stunned to know that these turtles are the smallest of the world’s sea turtles. When the event died down, we packed up and had a very early lunch of veggie pasta at 10 am. Even though I was and still am very sleepy from the whole thing, I enjoyed it so much.

Next post will be about my fishing program for sure. Since the focus will be saltwater fishing/surf primarily, I had to alter the “fishing clinic” program for the site. I used the same materials, created new items, and received extra pamphlets for Texas fishing. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow, thank you and goodbye!

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