by Dr. Lisa Ferguson
Our kids are not the only ones headed off to school in the fall. Each year, we send diamondback terrapin hatchlings to spend the school year with teachers who are trained and permitted to raise the turtles with their students through our Terrapins in the Classroom program. The hatchlings come from eggs we salvage from female terrapins killed on roads during the nesting season. This year of care, called headstarting, allows the hatchlings to grow much larger than they would over the same period in the wild. Elementary, intermediate, and high schools from across the state are represented in our program, affording hundreds of students the chance to learn about our favorite brackish reptile through lessons integrating biology, conservation, wildlife, ecosystems, math, and writing. Terrapin-centric learning activities have been developed by many of the teachers and our staff, and are available on our website. At the end of the school year, the headstarted terrapins are returned to us for release, and graduated to life in the marsh. We are so thankful for all the dedicated teachers and schools who participate in this program and take on additional responsibilities for the important work of education, and for program support provided by the Disney Conservation Fund, Stockton University, and the Leff Family Foundation.