This year, the early education instructor at the Kennesaw State University Paulding Instructional Site took two student teachers and a Paulding County School District teacher along with her as part of a KSU program which sponsored the teachers to participate.
Babs Tate, a teacher at Hutchens Elementary, and KSU student teachers Jessica Wyatt and Ashley Gosney traveled with Collins to the barrier island.
“I found I could turn around and immediately give these lessons to my students,” said Collins, a former science teacher.
The teachers work with the Caretta Research Project, a nonprofit founded in 1972 to protect and monitor the activity of loggerhead sea turtles.
“We patrol the beaches all night from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.,” said Collins, a 25-year Dallas resident.
Throughout the summer, volunteers travel to the isolated island, which has to have food and ice brought in by boat, to protect the nests of the turtles.
“Wassaw is seven miles long, so we split the beach in half among two groups and look for crawls [mother turtles coming to land to build a nest]. We make sure the nest is above the high water mark. If we have to, we will dig it up and move it to higher ground.”
Collins said the sea turtles nest up to three times a season and lay about 100 to 125 eggs each time.
To protect the nest from predators such as raccoons and crabs, the volunteers put wire around the nest and then make a way out for the babies around 50 to 55 days, according to Collins.
“Only about 1 percent of them survive,” Collins said. “They have to be 30 to 35 years before they lay eggs.”
Collins said the experience is invaluable to teachers. The university was going to try to continue the program, which partners with Caretta, to sponsor the teachers each year.
“It gives you the opportunity to participate in and experience something teachers would never experience otherwise,” she said.