Thirteen Eastern Kentucky University students spent the 2016-17 winter term on the southeast Georgia coast.
But they weren’t there to soak up the sun.
The students, from the Department of Recreation and Park Administration and the Animal Studies Program in the Department of Psychology, were on Jekyll Island helping the Georgia Sea Turtle Center collect visitor use data to improve their visitor center and education program related to sea turtles and coastal conservation. Faculty members Dr. Michael Bradley and Stephen Sims accompanied the students.
One student noted that the “most influential moment” was when a sick sea turtle entered the treatment area to be placed on a ventilator. “As sad as it was, it’s moments like that that make the visitors understand the need for conservation and rehabilitation of these animals. Actually seeing a sick turtle really impacts you and makes you want to be pro-active in helping these creatures.”
Another noted that the experience gave the group “a better sense of what you need to have, or how the information needs to be displayed, to create a successful interpretive program.”
Students making the trip were: Samantha Bates, Louisville; Megan Bell, Berea; Catherine Bloomfield, Richmond; Christina Bradley, Corbin; Darrian Carr, Winchester; Tabitha Foster, Richmond; Micah Hess, Arlington, Indiana; Michelle Hickerson, Martinsburg, West Virginia; Jasmin Kilgore, Louisville; Phoebe Kingsley, Danville; Seth Meldon, Springfield, Ohio; Davis Preston, Lexington; and Abigail Smallwood, Pikeville.
It wasn’t all work and no play. The students also had time to visit several cultural and historic destinations, including Fort Frederica National Monument, Historic St. Simons Downtown District, St. Simons Lighthouse, and Driftwood Beach. The group also toured the Summer Waves Water Park and the Camp Jekyll 4H Camp to learn more about managing the properties for visitors and for educational uses.