Volunteer Spotlight by Sheila Harnois
Who is that silver-haired sprite you see at so many STPS events? It’s Marilyn Seal, mother of six, grandmother of twelve, organizer, activist, and dedicated protector of sea turtles. With boundless energy, Marilyn has been helping to protect sea turtles for a long time.
Marilyn’s journey to STPS began in Evanston, Illinois, and brought her through Atlanta, Augusta, Philadelphia, Portsmouth, Virginia, Orlando, the Outer Banks of NC and ultimately to Palm Bay Florida. Her background in office management of a civil engineering, environmental and surveying firm for 20 years while on the Outer Banks led to her involvement with sea turtles.
Strolling on the beach she ran across a group of people participating in a sea turtle training workshop. That loosely knit group, known as the Network for Endangered Sea Turtles, (N.E.S.T.) had few resources and minimal structure. As a part of the initial team Marilyn participated in creation of by laws and became a charter member of their Board of Directors and their Education Coordinator. At that time, their facility consisted of a shed and four tanks. By the time Marilyn left to come to Florida, they were about to break ground on an addition to the Roanoke Island Aquarium especially for sea turtle rehabilitation.
Also during this time, Marilyn gave a presentation at a Southeastern Regional Sea Turtle Meeting (SERSTM) where she attracted the attention of an STPS member, who wrote to her asking for information about their program for 425 volunteers. Imagine his delight when Marilyn moved to Florida and applied for membership!
With her years of experience, Marilyn has participated in just about every facet of the STPS spectrum; events, the Turtle Krawl preparation, education, and answering the hotline for one week each month – even when the phone rings at one in the morning. But her favorite part, hands down, is watching a healthy turtle head back into its ocean home.
There’s a lot more to know about Marilyn Seal, she has been active in environmental causes but sea turtles are her passion. “Just look in their eyes,” she said, “and you’re hooked”.