Group of women doing research for theTurtleRoom

Letter from the President, June 2020

TheTurtleRoom’s President and Executive Director reflects on both the last nine years and the current state of humanity.

Nine years.

I almost can’t believe it has been that long since theTurtleRoom launched as a website for turtle keepers to collect and share knowledge about these animals we love so much. As those of you who follow our work have seen, in these nine years, theTurtleRoom has grown to a much greater purpose, as we truly work to advance survival of tortoises and freshwater turtles through collaborative education, conservation, and research programs.

You – our readers, followers, supporters, and donors – have played a significant role in our growth. Your support not only provides us with the funds to keep growing and making an impact in the saving of tortoises and freshwater turtles, but provides us with the energy to push forward, even when times are challenging. And we truly, deeply thank you for that.

We normally think of anniversaries as times of celebration. However, they are more than that. Anniversaries also mark a time when we can analyze the past, and look to the future. We look to make changes that will allow us to continue to grow, as individuals, as organizations, and within relationships.

Viviana Ricardez, Vice President of conservation organization, holding a juvenile Wood Turtle while volunteering with theTurtleRoom
Viviana Ricardez, Vice President of conservation organization, holding a juvenile Wood Turtle for head measurements while volunteering with theTurtleRoom.
As I think about our nine years of existence, the observation that stands out most is that theTurtleRoom isn’t just about turtles and tortoises. We would not be where we are without our wonderful team of Volunteer Staff and our other volunteers. People and relationships are of utmost importance here and that importance has only grown over our nine years.

Ultimately, the fate of these animals we love so much will depend on humanity. Ignoring the logistics of trying to save turtles in countries ravaged by civil wars or pandemics, how can those simply trying to survive possibly work to conserve the natural world? How can we turn our hearts and minds to conservation issues when they are already under the weight of the issues of humanity?

The year 2020 has been challenging, eye-opening, and a reminder that the growth of humanity is nowhere near complete. Over the last several years, the ugliest aspects of humanity have come out of the shadows and into the light, where we can actively work to eradicate them. The recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others have hopefully reawakened us all. Yet the brutal deaths of these men and women are only the worst of the systemic discrimination and dehumanization we see in society. It is not enough to stop allowing these killings to happen, but the change must be made deeper within each of us.

Sadly, this discrimination and dehumanization is mirrored within our own community – the turtle and tortoise community – both on the conservation and hobbyist sides. Blacks, Latinos, other people of color, and women are talked over, looked past, ignored, skipped over, and alienated all while watching those who have discriminated against them, harassed them, and assaulted them receive awards and accolades. It is no wonder that many promising, bright individuals choose to simply look elsewhere for a place they would be more welcome and more respected. It is long past time for these individuals to be given the respect, trust, opportunity, and platform they deserve, both in our little turtle community and in society as a whole.

Let this moment in history be when we all come together and say, “No more!”

In thoughtful reflection,

Steve Enders
President and Executive Director, theTurtleRoom

TheTurtleRoom has worked and is actively working to diversify its Volunteer Staff, Board, and volunteers. We will continue to learn and grow and do our best in the fight against racism, sexism, and inequality. If you’d like to join our tTR family, we have several positions open.

Danielle D'Amato holding a Wood Turtle
Ayla Ross filling out data sheets during Wood Turtle research
Miranda McCleaf holding an adult male Wood Turtle
Jenn Wallace holding a Wood Turtle
Ellie Campbell holding a Common Snapping Turtle


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