May Volunteer Spotlight:
By Sheila Harnois
This month’s volunteer spotlight shines on Jill Lankford, who has been working for STPS since she moved to Florida about two years ago. If you’ve been following the Loggerhead Lowdown, you have probably enjoyed Jill’s stories. Jill and her husband moved to Melbourne from Georgia when he was transferred by his employer, Southwest Airlines. Jill’s background as a paralegal and her present career with Surfside Properties and Management shaped her interest in researching, which has yielded to writing about sea turtles.
Starting as a volunteer in the store with registrations for the turtle walk, her experiences have evolved as she followed her natural curiosity from beach clean-ups, where she imagined finding washed up treasures, to interviews with professors at FIT and vets at the Sea Turtle Healing Center. “One story leads to another. There are endless sources of information every time you go to an event” Jill says. She likes “Putting puzzles together, solving the mystery. “ Her tenacity to find out more makes her writing come alive.
One of her favorite turtle experiences was when she first went to the Healing Center for a story. She was impressed by the equipment, the setup, and the number of volunteers, many of whom were volunteers for STPS. Recognizing how important it is to raise funds for further research, she hopes to help raise the profile of sea turtles, perhaps in partnership with the zoo. When people become engaged with the turtles, they are more conscious about how their own actions can help or hinder the species.
Jill has a refreshingly optimistic outlook. ”Always come to the table with a resolution,” she says, “not a problem”. She is “Thankful for being where I am and being in a place in life where I can help others- people and animals” Toward this end, Jill hopes to see legislation prohibiting plastic bags on the beach.
For new or seasoned members, she suggests that they attend monthly meetings. There’s a lot of information being offered. For Jill, each meeting provides potential for new research, and a new story for the Loggerhead Lowdown!