The Florida Keys-based Save-A-Turtle is ramping up its outreach efforts and is taking its show on the road.
The nonprofit group recently purchased a $15,000 solar-powered trailer and retrofit it so the group can take it to schools and special events.
“We needed something to get out and reach the kids,” Save-A-Turtle President Harry Appel says. “We need to get some young people involved in Save-A-Turtle. We need to get more young people involved in marine issues.”
The group has increased its public outreach and membership in the past several years going from 105 to more than 300 members.
The 12-foot trailer is powered by a 18,000-watt solar system, which supports a computer, television and displays about turtle-safe outdoor lights.
“We wanted it big enough to carry everything, but small enough to be towed behind a smaller SUV or truck,”
Save-A-Turtle made national news last year after the group’s video showing hatchlings crawling out of a nest went viral on the Internet, garnering 80 million hits on youtube.com and Facebook. The video came from a live feed from a Save-A-Turtle web cam on Big Pine Key.
“It’s extremely important to reach out to the young people,” says Sue Schaf, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) turtle biologist based in the Keys. “I see it with my work at the (Marathon) Turtle Hospital. It’s the children that tell the parents that they need to stop and help sick or injured turtles. I hear that from the parents all the time. Getting out to the schools is extremely important.”
Save-A-Turtle is a volunteer-based, nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of rare and endangered marine turtles and to the enhancement of their habitats in the Keys.
The organization was formed in 1985 under the sponsorship of the Florida Park Service, the FWC and St. James the Fisherman Church.
Save-A-Turtle holds monthly meetings on the first Monday of each month at the Marathon Turtle Hospital. More information about the group can be found at save-a-turtle.org.