VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT: DEBBY LIVINGSTON
By Megan Maynard
This month’s volunteer spotlight is Debby Livingston.
Debby has made Melbourne her home since late 2011 and soon after settling here found herself searching for volunteer work. She is an accountant by trade and owns her own successful practice, but while working her first job after moving, she met fellow volunteer Mark Petrillo and he suggested the Sea Turtle Preservation Society.
In early 2012, she became a member and began training for night walks, and slowly gained speed from there. Debby has dabbled in nearly every aspect of volunteering, but what gets her most excited is the turtle night walks. She finds introducing sea turtles to the public through the walk lecture, which is followed by the beach walk, to be rewarding. She loves teaching people how they can help.
Loving the ocean and all its creatures continues to motivate Debby’s efforts. She loves seeing that spark in someone when they realize how they can help in their everyday lives. By understanding sea turtles and their part in the ecosystem, she believes more people will get involved and help the cause.
For a time, Debby served on the stranding team. She is proud to share that SeaWorld called her to release two of the sea turtles she had rescued. It was a full circle moment for her. Debby even had the opportunity to be on the TV show Sea Rescue with a washback named Archie. While helping at a boat race, she was offered another opportunity to do marine observation throughout Florida. Through this work, she came into contact with many marine species, including an 18-foot manta ray. She had the pleasure of meeting Sylvia Earle, which she said was, simply put, amazing.
There are a variety of STPS volunteer opportunities available; many of which can open additional doors as they did for Debby. As a last note, Debby emphasizes the importance of reading. Pick up a few books and begin to educate yourself on the ocean, turtles, and the vast array of other species. Just educating yourself and getting involved can help the species survive.