When I was just three years old, my mother took me to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois.  When I came across the large saltwater tank I became completely enamored with the giant sea turtle gliding through the water.  The only way Mom could get me away from the tank without kicking and screaming was to buy me a toy turtle from the gift shop.  I fell in love with turtles that day, and since then this love has only grown.
It is my love of turtles that brings me here to TIRN.  While all of my friends were deciding what financial internships they wanted to do or which university they wanted to do clinical research at, I went to Google and simply searched “sea turtle internships.”  Seaturtles.org was one of the first websites to come up.  Whether it’s fate or just dumb luck, I’m not sure.  But I do know that I am so thrilled to have the opportunity to come out here to the San Francisco area to learn more about conservation, sea turtles, and the non-profit sector.  In just three days I have already learned more about sea turtles than I have in the past twenty years.  Not only have I learned about them, but I’ve even begun to create school curriculum to teach children about the Leatherback Sea Turtle, the newly declared marine reptile of California.  Not only do I get to help create this curriculum, but I am also working on the Leatherback Watch Program, which enlists the help of volunteers to document when and where Leatherbacks are being sighted off the coast.  I’m so grateful for this opportunity to help sea turtles in this way.  When I started looking into turtle internships I was concerned that nobody would want me because I’m not a Biology major.  But here I get to save sea turtles by using the skills I’ve developed through my Communication Studies major at Vanderbilt.  Talk about my dream job!
Coming all the way to California to work at TIRN was certainly a risk, but one that I’m glad I took.  Growing up in Normal, IL (yes, it really is called Normal and no, it really isn’t normal) and attending school in Nashville, TN makes California seem like a foreign country.  First of all, I didn’t know what mountains looked like until I looked down on the four-hour flight from Chicago to San Francisco.  Second of all, my research tells me there are mountain lions near the office.  Thirdly, I have never seen a place that was so sunny, but so cold.  These, amongst other things, are what make this internship such an adventure!