VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT: KIRK AND NANCY CUNNINGHAM
By Megan Maynard
A big thank you to our STPS Volunteers of the Month: Nancy and Kirk Cunningham.
When they aren’t traveling and enjoying RVing, kayaking, racquetball, or playing tennis, Nancy and Kirk Cunningham have enjoyed volunteering on the STPS nesting survey team, turtle night walks, Turtle Krawl, and helping at the Turtle Nest kiosk at Port Canaveral. On the weekends, they help with transports. Kirk jokes he has attempted to dip into education but is still trying to find the perfect fit.
Though they are both retired, Kirk’s career in the retail grocery business managing sales relationships led to various relocations over the years. Nancy worked as a software development project manager, which allowed her to work remotely. In their early years, both Nancy and Kirk’s families moved to Fort Lauderdale, and as they say “the rest is history.” They are happily retired in Cocoa Beach after having lived in Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Atlanta, and Springdale. While vacationing in Cocoa Beach years ago, they read an STPS brochure left at their condo about turtle nesting season, which intrigued them. They found STPS again online while searching for volunteer opportunities and have been members since 2018. They knew after retirement that they wanted to stay active, and STPS seemed a perfect match. Both feel it is easy to remain motivated when you see the impact you make.
Fondly recalling her experiences, Nancy feels accomplished in learning about the nesting process which makes her feel more prepared to educate others. Kirk still recalls his first transport of an injured sea turtle, which touched his heart knowing what a difference our collective efforts make. Both Nancy and Kirk are honored to be able to speak to locals about sea turtles, which he quips is far less controversial than politics or COVID-19. It can be difficult to say no at times to various tasks because even as a volunteer you cannot possibly take on every project. After some early growing pains while undergoing training, they feel they now have a schedule that works for them without feeling burned out.
As this year has been unique given the pandemic, Nancy and Kirk plan on continuing their knowledge base in their current areas. Hopefully as our world normalizes, they can accrue more volunteer hours. They want to emphasize that the organization has opportunities for people of all ages and interests. For anyone eager to learn more, the STPS website is a great place to start.