This week we have a guest post from our Registrar, Casey.
Hi, my name is Casey. I have always been grateful to have lived most of my life on the coast of North Carolina. The ocean was my playground and an interactive outdoor classroom, where breaks between body surfing were spent searching for sharks teeth or digging for mole crabs. I didn’t realize then how our shore is directly affected by the respect we show for the environment. Once I learned society’s actions have consequences on our planet’s ecosystems, including the ocean, I knew I wanted to make a difference and let others know what I had learned.
After spending a few years in the Piedmont area of North Carolina to receive a degree in Environmental Studies, I was ready to return to the coast. I found myself teaching in the Education Department of the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher. I traveled all over the state bringing outreach programs to schools, libraries, nursing homes, and festivals. I taught others no matter how far away you may live from the ocean, your actions make a difference.
I now work full time in the Education Department as the Aquarium’s Registrar. I coordinate school field trips and make education program reservations. Working at an Aquarium located on the beautiful coast definitely has its perks: the beach is just a short walk away, the commute to work is always scenic and we share knowledge of native aquatic ecosystems with the many tourists, locals, students and other groups who spend time at our attraction. The Aquarium at Fort Fisher is the perfect place to learn about the wonders we find in our state’s waters, from hermit crabs to the extinct Megalodon shark.
Many schools take advantage of the learning opportunities offered at the Aquarium. We host a variety of programs geared to all grade levels. Yet, it isn’t always easy for schools to visit us on field trips. This became more evident after a caller once asked if we offered virtual field trips. I told this caller that we currently did not; but that didn’t mean that we couldn’t start! Soon after, I was contacted by Johnston County’s Digital Learning Department about hosting a distance learning session with one of their county’s science classrooms.
We successfully connected with a fourth and fifth grade class and taught a session on turtles found in North Carolina. The best part of this program was the connection the students developed with the ocean, even though they were sitting in a classroom two-hours away.The students learned the impact of taking one small action. If they picked up a plastic bag blowing around on their playground and they could prevent it from making its way downstream into the Atlantic Ocean. By keeping the bag out of the ocean they could potentially prevent the injury of a sea turtle that may mistake the bag for food and eat it.
Now others can take advantage of our new Distance Learning program. Groups can visit the Aquarium without traveling, connect with one of our educators and meet live animals by using technology. Our education department currently offers two distance learning programs: Incredible Invertebrates and Alligators Alive! Each program runs approximately 30 minutes and is seasonally available from September 15, 2014 to June 5, 2015. To find out more about our Distance Learning programs, check out the details here.
The hatchlings are getting larger before our eyes. Turtle A is 9.1 cm long and weighs 137.2 grams. Turtle B is 9.6 cm long and weighs 172.9 grams. Not sure what to do with this weight and length? Learn more in our Hatchling to Yearling lesson plan.
I hope you enjoyed meeting Casey today. Have you had an experience in school that led you to a new hobby or wanting to learn more? Share your experience in the comments below.
In other news, Barnacle, the turtle we learned about in the STAR post, is on the move! He was released on Tuesday! We are very excited for him. You can see a video of his release on the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shore’s facebook page.