Friday, March 24, 2017

The Last (aka Voldemort) Day Ever: Sadness x 10,000,000,000

7am wakeup at Belle's Beach:  $7 per person per day means we ran out of milk the last night, and reflection was so awesome we all talked (and cried) until after the local Food Lion closed.  Unfortunately, no more milk for cereal or creamer for coffee in the morning!  These are tough times but we have learned we are resilient.  Honeynut Cheerios are delicious dry anyway...

745am:  To the turtle hospital!  Juhye, Katie, Rhea, and Nick spent the last day of our excursion in Sick Bay with Dobby, Weasley, Canal, chubby Zazu, and Dune Bug.  In Sick Bay, the trio of students took turns scrubbing tanks and bathing turtles.  The therapy pool was busy all morning; Canal had two separate trips to the pool to practice swimming on the bottom of the tank, and Pooh and Zazu swam in the current working off the extra calories of generous feedings.

Meanwhile, over in Turtle Bay, the rest of the team gathered around a cart covered in red and blue plastic bowls to select turtles for the 8am feeding.  Each bowl included a nametag scrawled with black Sharpie:  Minerva, Jenny, E.T., Fuzzy, Hogwart and the others knew it was time for food, and splashed and circled their tanks excitedly.  After picking our favorite turtles to feed our last round of squid, vitamins, and fish, we delivered breakfast with reluctance.  Nobody wanted to acknowledge this was our last day to feed, sweep, scrub, and mop before heading north back to Maryland.

1030am:  We headed back to the house for an early lunch since Jean wouldn't be in until noon.  After more sandwiches of turkey, chicken, peanut butter, and/or jelly, and the last of the chili, we trooped back to the hospital with fresh colorful shirts purchased from the giftshop the day before.

Noon:  Jean had multiple turtles to treat in Sick Bay, but she went over the rules with us for taking photos with our flippered friends:  no picking them out of the tanks, no hands in the water, and no flash.  We were all very excited to take some selfies with the sea creatures we have quickly grown affection for.  After taking our photos, Jean joined us for a group shot under the Oceans of Memories mural in the education hallway.  It took a few tries, but we were finally even and you could see everybody's head!

2pm:  We returned to the house for an afternoon break to nap, shower, walk the beach in beautiful sunshine, study, or relax until getting ready for a photo session on the beach at 5pm.  It was the most time we've had any day here that wasn't planned or accounted for.  The weather was absolutely perfect for Nick and Juhye to walk in, Monica to sleep through, and everyone else to spend cleaning the house like the wonderful people they are!

5pm:  The weather was beautiful!  Donald once again lent his excellent photography and styling skills to taking group and solo shots of everyone.  There will be some gorgeous head shots on LinkedIn and Facebook profiles in the near future! We had tons of fun taking various partner and group shots with everyone and can't wait to share them all on social media soon!

630pm:  Time for dinner at Gallagher's sports bar!  We feasted on delicious burgers, crispy appetizers, and drank in Jean's stories like water in a desert.  Our guest of honor was able to join us to celebrate the week, and all we had done, and encourage us to apply what we had learned.  At the conclusion of our dinner, we presented Jean with an acrylic award decorated with a green tribal turtle commemorating five years of UMD ILS trips to Topsail Island and the turtle hospital.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Day 5: We had a grat tim

We were all very happy to have an extra hour for sleeping this morning. We didn't have to be at the hospital until 8:30, because today was the day that (almost) all of us were looking forward to: we were going to teach over 350 children about sea turtles.

9:00 - Everyone was prepared to welcome all of the energetic children. As the kids were arriving, a small termite nest began a serious hatching event and a subsequent grant migration through the education hallway. We had to quickly sweep them up before they "ravaged" the children; we ended up teaching our stations straight through until 12:30 without any breaks. Here are the different stations we had!

Nicku started the kids off by giving them a brief overview of the different sea turtles of the world, including the Loggerhead, Green, and Kemp's Ridley turtles that are in the hospital.
Donald and Elizabeth then presented different sea turtle parts, emphasizing that a sea turtle shell is called a Carapace.

Juhye educated the students on cold-stunning, which is when the temperature of the water changes dramatically and freezes the turtles. Many turtles at the hospital are recovering from being cold-stunned.
At the next station, Monica talked about two of the hospitals very special cases called October and Walker, who both underwent surgery and were able to be released successfully.

Nicole and Jess presented the kids with the large trash turtle, which an artist donated to the hospital. Children pointed out different items of trash that made up the piece, and they learned about what they can do to reduce pollution.
Rhea and Nick educated the students about turtle nesting using bright images and a glass exhibit with an artificial nest and hatchlings. They made sure to discuss how hatchlings follow the moonlight into the water and how house lights often lead them in the wrong direction.

On a different note, Zabrina helped teach the students about the pollinator crisis, including how the hospital uses honey to heal wounds.
Brian's station was by the sick bay windows, where he talked about each of the hospital's sickest patients. Some of the turtles were in their tanks, and one turtle swam in the facility's therapy pool, which simulates ocean currents.

 12:30 - Everyone was beat, smiling, and very hungry. Thanks to the wonderful, generous Peggy, we helped ourselves to pasta salad, chips, cookies, and small pineapple cheesecakes! The break room was full of laughter, as everyone shared funny stories of working with the kids at their different stations. Apparently, even though we said the word "carapace" a million times, the children seemed to be very attached to the word "SHELL!" and the chaperones were very thankful for our help. Overall, we loved the experience, regardless of how sore our throats were after talking for over 3 hours straight.

2:30 - The squad hopped in the car to drive to the south point of the island. Since Topsail Island is a barrier island, sand naturally erodes from the north point and deposits on the south point, so the island moves south. We took a nice stroll in the wind around the south point, while making sure to stop many times for mini photoshoots along the way at dunes, tall grass, and the shore.

6:00 - Rhea and Monica made the fam a delightful, healthy vegetarian dinner, which we are all sure the parents would've been glad to see. Like always, we sat at the dinner table and had a long conversation about memes. (Check this video out for some laughs!!)

 7:00 - For the last time today, we got in the car to go to yet another pretty place that is perfect for photoshoots. Nearby there is a pier that stretches far out across the marsh, and the sunset is absolutely breathtaking! Many of us had Donald take high-quality pictures of us, hoping to use them as new profile pictures on Facebook, and we took a group photo spelling "THT" with our bodies on the pier for more Terps Helping Turtles memories!

8:00 - As always, we sat around for reflection in the living room, first talking about our experiences with the kids and then moving on to our favorite quotes relating to service. We discussed the importance of educating the children in the area about the threatened sea turtles and how learning about how they can make a difference in the environment has the potential to cause great change in the future. While we shared our favorite quotes, Nicole saved audio clips of each of the quotes to add to our digital story at the end of our trip (which is a lot sooner than we'd like!) The conversation got deep, people may or may not have cried, and we ended with a warm group hug.

Quote of the day: "I had a grat tim!"

That's all for today folks! Tune in next time for an exciting blog post! Peace out- Nicku & Nick

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Hoot of a Day

7:30- After going to sleep far too late and waking up far too early, the turtle squad packed up the cars and got ready for another wild day at the hospital.  We made sure to pack the essentials: Pirate's Booty and Goldfish (because all of the Cheez-its ran out).

8:00- We were greeted with the now familiar smell of turtle and their less fortunate (and much less alive) fish friends.  Monica, Donald, and Nicole spent their time in sick bay cleaning the tanks and keeping an eye on the turtles in the therapy tank, who were getting some much needed exercise after being plumped up by Jean's diet.  The other crew worked on prepping the educational area, and mopped their hearts away with the guidance of our resident mopping expert, Nick.  The hospital has to be spotless for the 300 students that will grace its halls tomorrow, and we did our best to make sure it was squeaky clean.

Juhye and Nick work tirelessly to clean the hospital's windows

12:30- After making the presentation space as clean as physically possible, we rehearsed our presentations to make sure that we had them polished. Nick's rehearsal was hilarious, and the way that he responded to us (acting like 8- year-olds) was amazing.  After eating lunch at the hospital, we made our way to the Cape Fear Raptor Center.  Along the way, we talked about Greg and how thankful we were that he gave us the opportunity to learn about the rescue birds.  When we pulled into the parking lot we immediately saw an enormous pen, and upon closer inspection, we saw the beast that resided within- none other, than Ethel the Emu.  We tried (in vane) to get her to come close enough for a picture, and then met Greg outside the facility.  We all couldn't contain our excitement as we settled down inside the raptor center to meet the birds.  We met a Barred Owl, Barn Owl, Mississippi Kite, Red Tailed Hawk, Eastern Screech Owls, and a moody Great Horned Owl. Then Greg brought us out a surprise: a baby Great Horned Owl. He also showed off Karma the Barn Owl's amazing quiet flight, and let Monica perch her on her special glove. We continued with a tour of the rest of the center, including Jon Snow the crow who yelled out "Hello" to us, and beautiful bald eagles. Take a look at some of the amazing birds we met below!

Chirpa the Eastern Screech Owl
Baby Great Horned Owl

6:00 - We devoured some amazing chili made by Zabrina and Juhye; here's the recipe if you want to recreate the experience!

Zabrina and Juhye's amazing chili

7:30 - We ended the night with a great reflection. It was skit night, and everyone created hilarious skits consisting of Jean, turtle nesting, and interpretive dances. We highlighted the importance of direct service, education, and reflection for the trip. We then debriefed about the raptor center and finding our passions in life, while finally cuddling on the couch together and promising to be friends forever. :)

Elizabeth and her wonderful tree metaphor about finding your passion in life.

Daily quotes:
"Now we bring our friends to a boil." - Zabrina
"Rounded chunk of meat, that's how I describe my body type." - Monica
"My blood wouldn't taste very good since I don't eat vegetables." - Juhye

Signing off,
Donald & Jess

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

We are Warriors!

Good Evening Sea Turtle Lovers!

6:30AM: All twelve of us groggily woke up at the crack of dawn (this is getting harder everyday) and consumed copious amounts of various breakfast cereals. We sent Donald out to capture photos of yet another beautiful sunrise, and somehow managed to get ourselves into the vans by 7:30AM.

8:00AM: We arrived at the hospital to the aroma of yummy lemon drops and donut holes. After we stuffed our cheeks, we separated into groups. Nick, Elizabeth, and Zabrina traveled to sick bay to spend time with Dune Bug, Canal, Zazu, Weasely, and Dobby. There they helped feed the turtles (no fingers were harmed in the feeding of these turtles) and clean turtles and tanks . The rest of the gang went to turtle bay to be put to work. After completion of their everyday duties, the turtle bay crew got to wash off turtles and watch volunteers perform treatments on the turtles. Once the sick bay and turtle bay crews got back together, we got to watch our BFF Sarah tag three of our turtles that are set to be released tomorrow (WOOHOO!!). We also had the chance to see Jean's magic in action, and watched in awe as she managed to calm even the craziest Kemps Ridley while giving intense antibiotic injections.

12:30PM: After we finished our various turtle tasks, we sat down for our Daily Dose of Jean wisdom. As we gathered in the classroom, Jean began telling about the importance of trust in her relationship with the sea turtles and other people alike. She told us the story of Warrior, a turtle that had been gravely when attacked by other turtles while stuck in a fishing net. Many people did not expect Warrior to survive, but after a long time Jean managed to gain the turtles trust by spending hours talking to the turtle and reminding it that it was indeed a warrior. After some time, Jean managed to calm the turtle down and allow for the proper treatment to be completed. The trusting relationship Jean built with this turtle was evident through her poignant and touching narrative. She later went on to find that Warrior had been found in Florida by another rescue group and seemed to be loving life (he was a bit chubby). Typically when turtles are released into the wild, no one ever hears from them again, but in this case it was incredible to see that one of their most intense cases had triumphed in this battle. There is no way to explain how time seems stop when Jean begins to speak, but it is a remarkable experience.

2:30PM: After some bumpin' car rides, we made our way to the North Carolina Aquarium at Ft. Fisher. There, we saw baby loggerheads, witnessed albino crocodiles, and got to interact with different exhibits like the pools where we got to touch sting rays, anemone, and even real live sharks! We also got involved with some hurricane simulators and super artsy photo shoots. Outside at the aquarium, Donald and Elizabeth searched for shark teeth and fossils and eventually joined the rest of the gang as they spent time doing an activity we like to call "Terps watching Turtles" (something we've been doing a lot of this trip). The car ride back consisted of one van taking afternoon naps and Jess attempting to crush Elizabeth's shoulder.
Incoming! Eleven excited ILSers and our fearless leader Zabrina took on the aquarium!

A majestic loggerhead in it's (not-so) natural habitat.
A beautiful Donald-taken picture of Brian touching a stingray. Don't try this at home kids.
6:00PM: TACO TUESDAY!! A well earned dinner of yummy tacos prepared by Nick and Nicku (a coincidence, we swear) was devoured.

8:00PM: Our reflection tonight talked a lot about service, and what it means to each of us. Our constructive conversation led to some thorough debates regarding the different motivations behind service and whether or not they should affect our views on what is considered "true service". We ended the evening preparing and practicing our presentations for 300 school children we will be teaching Thursday (please send help).

For your enjoyment, here are a few quotes from our week so far:

"American's will never change something as intimate as the shape of their milk!" -Brian
"A quarter of a single cucumber will RAVAGE our water system." -Pam
"....A child." -Nicku
"I thought I was nesting with you!" - Nicole
"Cheez-Its can be overwhelming" -Nick
"I want my Pirates Booty!" -Juhye

And some pictures from our day!

Terps watching Turtles chilling on the log.

Splashing around in the pools.

Roommates that ride frogs together are 50% happier on average. 

Fun times in the beautiful weather (Jess what are you doing?).
Spotted: 8 month old Loggerhead turtle at the aquarium.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Day 2: Plastrons and Plastics

6:30 - 7:30 - The house (slowly) rose with the sun, excited to start a new day! With the coffee and the chilly weather, we were ready to go to the hospital again.

7:45ish - 12 - The sick bay group (Rhea, Nicku, Katie, and Brian) all got to help out in sick bay today. After washing all the tubs out, they all worked together to wash down Dunebug while working on their turtle whisperer skills. The turtle bay crew adjusted to the new set of volunteers wonderfully, getting to see some new treatments along the way. They rushed turtles to and fro for weighing, watched Snooki get a cold laser treatment (though not really because the laser can damage your eyes), and saw Pumba get physical therapy on his rear flippers. Everyone got their workout in with the sweeping, mopping, and other super fun cleaning activities. Overall, a very fun and educational day at the hospital.
12 - 1:30 - After a quick lunch at the hospital, we headed over to University of North Carolina Wilmington to watch a turtle necropsy. While driving over, the minivans encountered each other at a stoplight and a Cheez-It war commenced. This was later continued while waiting for the procedure to start. Donald also attempted to mate with a goose but he was rejected (pictured below).
1:30 - 3:30 - We met up with Sarah and other UNCW students to watch the necropsy. The turtle we were studying was a juvenile green sea turtle that was accidentally captured. Sarah showed us the various parts of a turtle and concluded that it was relatively healthy until its capture. As you can see, the students found the necropsy just a little bit interesting.

3:30 - 6 - After an exciting ride home (with a small detour for candy), everyone came back and relaxed/worked on homework for a few hours before dinner.
6 - 8 - Dinner was cooked by Brian and Elizabeth. They set up a personalized pizza bagel assembly line that blew the minds of college students everywhere. The gourmet quality food was consumed while viewing the documentary Bag It. The film described the environmental and physiological impacts of plastics, ranging from oceanic pollution to developmental defects.
8 - 10 - Reflection time! We discussed the film, touching on privilege, sustainability, and their subsequent relationship. We also talked about the intent behind some of the cinematographic choices and the important of communication in environmental conservation efforts. More than anything else, we were especially excited about the concrete ways that the film offered on how to be more sustainable, so we'd like to share them with all of you!

1. Reusable water bottles - preferably metal :)
2. Cloth grocery bags - you can make your own produce bags too! We found this one link that looked promising:
3. Bringing your own coffee cups to Starbucks/other coffee shops.
4. LIVING SIMPLY! Buy only what you need.
5. Before recycling, we can reduce and reuse. As Jean said, if you have to get plastic, re-use it as many times as you can!
6. Volunteer in local beach clean-ups.

Thank you and good night!
Monica and Rhea :)

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Turtle Excitement Sunday feat. Jean

6:30 AM: A kind soul (aka Nick) woke up to turn on the coffee maker.
Nicole watched the beginning of the sunrise

7:00 AM: Most of the other souls rolled out of bed to eat a delicious breakfast of cereal and oatmeal.
7:30 AM: Katie demonstrated how not to scream "TURTLES" at the hospital so that we wouldn't disturb the turtles once we arrived.
8:00 AM: WE FINALLY SAW OUR FIRST SEA TURTLES (and we practiced excited internal screaming).
8:00-11:00 AM: Zabrina, Monica, Jess, Donald, and Juhye got to help out in Sick Bay, bathing and treating turtles for various conditions. The rest of our group experienced Turtle Bay, where we fed turtles, cleaned tanks, washed dishes, and mopped the floors. We also got to see treatments of Pumba and Snookie, the largest Loggerhead the hospital has ever had (more than 300 pounds)!
11:00-12:00 PM: The ever-inspirational Jean gave us a great introduction to the hospital. Not only did she talk about the many wonderful volunteers, but she also told the story of how they moved from facility to facility until they ended up in their beautiful, newest building. All of the donations from visitors throughout the years helped them get to where they are today. :)
Additionally, we all met Mama Kitty, who loved to visit with us, especially those who were allergic to cats.
12:00-1:00 PM: We returned to the house for lunch (and a quick, much needed nap).
1:30-3:30 PM: A long-time volunteer, Judy, gave us a further orientation to the hospital, including the origin of the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. The center was named after Jean's daughter, Karen, who died of leukemia at a young age. Karen's passion for sea turtles and conservation efforts inspired Jean to start the original hospital. Such a touching story <3
We were also introduced to the education stations focusing on sea turtle anatomy, species, and nesting as well as environmental conservation, which we will be presenting to the local students on Thursday!
Right as we were getting ready to leave, a load of fish, squid, and a variety of other small sea creatures was delivered to the hospital, so we helped store them in the freezer and cut up the mesh bags to avoid harm to other wild creatures.
Fun with fish (+ other ocean critters)

3:30-6:00 PM: BREAK TIME
Nicole, Rhea, and Elizabeth went for a run and spotted a dolphin!!

Katie attempted to study for her physiology exam while actually staring at the beautiful view.

6:00-7:00 PM: We ate an amazing Mediterranean meal cooked by Jess and Donald.
Photo credit to Jess

8:00-10:00 PM: Everyone sat down for a reflection, where we reviewed our day, compared our life experiences, and discussed our impact on the environment and our roles, as well as the government's role, in protecting the environment. After journaling, we all dispersed, relaxed, and got ready for bed.

Overall, it was a wonderful first day at the hospital, and everyone is excited to go back to the hospital tomorrow and travel to UNCW for the sea turtle necropsy!

Signing off... See you all tomorrow :)

-Katie & Nicole

Guess the participant:
"It's snarling at me!!!"

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Cozy Saturday (feat. hot chocolate, thunderstorms, and long conversations)

Our group left La Plata Hall at 8am this morning--bright and early--to depart on our magical adventure to Topsail Island. We made our way through plenty of traffic, pouring rain, and country backroads to arrive at our destination. While the car rides were long, they were definitely interesting! One car discussed their preferences and love for various types of cheeses, while another car screamed in delight while watching a calf run across a wide, open field. Fun fact: one of our vans had only been driven for 306 miles by the time we had to stop for gas (this may be the newest car we'll ever drive)! When we arrived at the house, we unloaded the enormous weight on our vans, and settled in to our lovely house for the week. We're right on the beach, much to the delight of all of our participants! While Zabrina, Nick, and Juhye made a quick grocery run, Nicole and Katie cooked a very large portion of pasta, accompanied by meatballs, pasta sauce, and a healthy salad. Then we ate our first big meal as a family <3.

After everything was cleaned up, we all sat down for our first reflection of Terps Helping Turtles 2017! We started by reviewing the day and discussed our excitement about tomorrow, especially about meeting the legendary Jean Beasley. Additionally, we got to know each other better through various activities and talked about the importance of vulnerability on this trip. According to C.S. Lewis, "To love at all is to be vulnerable." We had a dynamic discussion about how we grow the most when we open ourselves up to people and are able to be our true selves. Finally we finished with a journaling session, to the tune of a beach thunderstorm! Everyone is excited to see the turtles tomorrow, so stay tuned!

We are introducing a new segment to our blog: Guess the participant! Each day we will be highlighting a memorable quote from one of our participants. Can you guess who this was?
"I want that pirate's booty!"

Our participants are already hard at work!

A lovely artsy picture, created by Nicole and Katie.

A faint rainbow in the background, after a ton of heavy rain.

Our backyard view!

Dinner cooked by Katie and Nicole.
A video of the beach, taken by Zabrina. Pretend you're here with us!

Signing off for now! Until tomorrow...
-Katie & Nicole