A turtley awesome job: career insight from Sea Turtle Inc.’s Khrystyne Jamerson
In light of the recently celebrated ‘World Turtle Day’, I caught up with Khrystyne Jamerson, an educator at Sea Turtle Inc. on South Padre Island.
Khrystyne’s enthusiasm for wildlife conservation inspired me daily while we were working together for Ghana Research and Education Alliance for Turtles this past winter. Her new position allows her to share this passion with others and is the result of hard-work, perseverance and a little bit of luck.
What does your job entail?
As an educator, I am responsible for the content presented to the public supporting Sea Turtle, Inc.’s mission of “educating the public about sea turtles and their marine environment.” I am also the coordinator of the Virtual Field Trip program designed for groups interested in learning more about sea turtles and what we do, who are not able to visit our facility.
What do you do day-to-day at Sea Turtle Inc.?
A typical day for me includes lots of educational presentations for the public and interacting with visitors at our facility. Many first-time visitors to our facility come in knowing nothing about turtles or what we do. Connecting with them through education not only improves their knowledge, but creates stewards for these amazing animals and their environment. When time permits, I also get the opportunity to respond to calls about turtles on the beach. Right now is nesting season here in South Padre Island, Texas, so whenever I get the opportunity to run out and see a nesting female, I jump at the chance!
What is the best part of the job?
The best part of my job is definitely getting to hang out with the kids, whether that be through field trips, outreaches, or virtually. I love seeing that light turn on in their brain when they are actually connecting with what I am talking about. These kids are the future of this field and knowing that something I say or teach them while they are here may guide them towards a wildlife-related career path is an awesome feeling.
Has sea turtle conservation always been a big passion of yours?
I loved sea turtles but I didn’t actually connect with them on a deeper level until I got the opportunity to visit Costa Rica on a volunteer program while I was in college. I was in a tiny village on the Caribbean side of the country working on a sea turtle project during hatching season and got to see hatchling Leatherbacks take their first steps of life on to the beach and out into the ocean. It was an awesome experience that I will never forget. This program got my feet wet in sea turtle conservation and I haven’t looked back since.
What steps did you take to secure your dream job?
I got my Bachelor’s in Wildlife Biology from Texas State University. Upon graduating, I went on to gain experience with a variety of volunteer opportunities and internships. My first internship after college was here at Sea Turtle, Inc. two years ago. For last two years I have traveled around and continued to gain more sea turtle experience. After many seasonal opportunities and tons of moving around, I got lucky this spring when a position opened up here and they thought I would be a good fit as a staff member.
Finally, what advice would you give to someone wishing to follow in your footsteps?
The advice I would give to someone looking for a career in this field is to get as much experience as you can. Don’t turn down a position just because there could be some aspect of it you may not like. Prior to my internship with Sea Turtle, Inc., I had no background in environmental education and never pictured myself working with children. That opportunity helped me hone a skill I happened to excel at that I never knew I had. Utilize wildlife-related job boards! There are tons of them out there and all the jobs that are posted may not be the same. Another thing to keep in mind are the contacts you make along the way! You never know who you will meet and where those contacts could lead in the future.
International sea turtle volunteering and internship opportunities are also regularly advertised on the following wildlife job board:
Caitlin Frankish: May 2016