Every year, I like to find a small business that is making a difference for the environment and share it with you all. It is such a pleasure to introduce this year's Small Business Saturday highlight, Sea Turtle Adventures. This inspiring organization was created by Florida native, Jacquelyn Kingston. I hope you enjoy getting to know her and what she does as much as I did!
Tell us about yourself personally, and then how it inspired this venture
I was born and raised in Boynton Beach, FL. I was fortunate enough to know from a very young age that I wanted to become a marine biologist. My favorite pastimes as a young kid included fishing with my dad, restoring our Boston Whaler, working on our aquariums together, and collecting shells on the beach with my mom. When I was 13, my parents saw an article in the newspaper about a sea turtle hospital in Juno Beach, FL. We hopped in the car and took the 45minute drive to the Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC). This trip started a 5 year journey volunteering at the LMC every single weekend until I left for college to purse a degree in marine biology. Fast forward to today, I am 36 years old, have a master’s degree, and am still working in the field of marine biology and specializing in sea turtle conservation. After spending the last 18 years operating as individual monitoring local beaches for sea turtle nests with a group of volunteers, I decided to form Sea Turtle Adventures, to expand our programs and opportunities within Palm Beach County.
What is Sea Turtle Adventures?
Sea Turtle Adventures (STA) is a 501c3 non-profit based out of North Palm Beach, FL. STA was established in 2016 and combines my love for sea turtle conservation with my passion to provide adults with special needs nature-based opportunities. STA’s focus areas include sea turtle nest monitoring in the Boynton Beach area (18 years and counting), rescuing injured and deceased sea turtle, public education and engagement (including holding ~30 beach cleanups a year), and running our special needs adult program (called iCARE “Restoring Nature and Transforming Abilities”). We document ~1,000 new sea turtle nests annually on the 3-mile section of beach we monitor from Woolbright Rd. to George Bush Blvd.
Do you have any fun or interesting stories that you want to share?
Where do I begin? Every day is fun! With regards to our sea turtle nest morning program, we have seen some very interesting things wash up on the beach. We are typically the first one on the beach each morning. We have found homemade rafts wash ashore from the islands, a handful of messages in a bottle, and we have made some life-long friendships with beachgoers who we see on a regular basis.
What about one of those heart-warming, inspiring moments?
Our iCARE program provides so many opportunities to adults with special needs that they otherwise would not likely experience. For instance, in November we took 11 of our 47 iCARE members to Cocoa Beach for a 2-night getaway at a resort on the beach. For many of them, it was their first time away from home and away from their parents. Needless to say, I had to practically drag them all to the van to leave and head home on Sunday! Our iCARE program also allows members to make and sell crafts through our organization. One of our members, Mariah, makes and sells beautiful earrings for us. She told me recently that it was her goal to be able to one day make and sell her own jewelry and because of STA she is able to make that dream a reality.
How can others get involved with their time or financially, and how can they contact you?
We are always in need of volunteers to help run our programs. In particular, we need volunteers to serve as “buddies” during our special needs events. We also need volunteers to help represent STA at green markets and craft shows and help set up for beach cleanups. We can always use financial donations which can be made on our website (www.seaturtleadventures.com). Financial donations are more important now than ever for us since in June 2018, my husband Joe and I purchased a 1200 sq ft office building in North Palm Beach which is STA’s headquarters.