The Adopt-A-Turtle program is in its second year and is designed to help facilitate student education and research inside and outside of the classroom. The funds raised through this program help pay for equipment and housing for students conducting research with box turtles throughout their species range. Equipment such as radio receivers, PIT tags and GPSs are used by students enrolled in both lecture and field laboratory courses. The Adopt-A-Turtle program is also vital for supporting the annual purchase of radio transmitters which enable students to track, monitor and collect data on the same individual box turtles over months, years and even decades.
Donors to the Adopt-A-Turtle program receive a triannual newsletter highlighting student and research achievements during the turtles’ active season. The Adopt-A-Turtle funds also help pay for student housing at research stations throughout the box turtle’s wide species distribution (including outside of Kansas) and help cover the cost of students attending conferences to present their work and further build their resumes and CVs. Aside from using the equipment for students enrolled in biology classes and for research, the equipment and turtles with radio transmitters are also used for outreach events to help increase public awareness for the ecological importance of these magnificent but declining populations of turtles while also providing kids and adults alike the opportunity to learn and personally try their hand at radio telemetry to locate animals.
Dr. Ben Reed and his students present at schools, zoos, after-school clubs and summer camps. The overall goal of Dr. Reed’s box turtle program at Washburn University is to create opportunities for more hands-on and engaging classroom and research experiences for students while also building public awareness and appreciation for box turtles, which should ultimately help protect them for future generations to enjoy and continue to learn from.