What made you fall in love with sea turtles and the ocean? Can you pinpoint a specific moment? I can. I fell in love with sea turtles for the first time when working as a Peace Corps volunteer in Panama.

It was 2007¬†and I had signed up to be an ‘Environmental Conservation Worker’ in Panama. At the time, I didn’t know what type of work would be assigned to me. Luckily, I was assigned to live in a rural, beach village and work with a group of fishermen who wanted to help protect sea turtles.

I worked with their conservation group to protect eggs laid by nesting green and leatherback¬†sea turtles. We would place the eggs in enclosures to ensure they were safe from predators like roaming dogs and guarded from poachers who wanted to steal and then sell the eggs. When the eggs hatched and the tiny sea turtles crawled to the ocean, we made sure the hatchlings weren’t eaten by crabs and birds. It was rewarding to do our small part to encourage the survival of individual turtles who we hoped would return to their natal beach again someday to nest.

I remember riding a horse along the beach in the middle of a starry night looking for eggs along a long stretch of beach, seeing the telltale tracks that meant a sea turtle had come out of the water, and watching a recently hatched sea turtle crawl over a twig on the beach that was twice the turtle’s size.

Each of these memories is special to me. Together, they explain how I fell in love with sea turtles. I hope that other people can have similar moments and it is that hope that led me to begin my work with Turtle Island Restoration Network as an Advocacy and Legal C0-Director. For those of you who share my hope, I want to thank you for your support and encourage you to continue to do what you can to make sure the future we have is one where sea turtles are safeguarded.