The Adopt-A-Turtle program is in its forth 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 (at various field stations) 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 hopefully even decades.
Donors to the Adopt-A-Turtle program receive a triannual newsletter highlighting student and research achievements during the turtles’ active season. Donors of at least $100 will also receive an official Certificate of Adoption for a unique ornate box turtle that is being researched by students and Dr. Reed. 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 engage in citizen science events such as doing radio telemetry to locate animals.
Dr. Benjamin 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.