VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT: RHONDA PSZONOWSKY
By Megan Maynard
Rhonda Pszonowsky and her husband, Roger, have been active members of STPS since 2004. While on vacation in Oak Island, NC, she and her family witnessed a nest emergence on the beach while being supervised by “nest parents.” They were thrilled with the experience. She was born in West Virginia, and she moved to Florida in 2004. At the time, Melbourne Beach Library was holding a meeting about sea turtles and Rhonda and her husband immediately knew they needed to be involved.
For the first 10 years, Rhonda often supported her husband who was heavily involved in strandings, board activities, and Turtle House projects. Night walks are her favorite activity; Rhonda enjoys meeting people from all over the world, and it’s a great way to make friends in STPS. Beyond volunteering, Rhonda is a professional optician, loves kayaking, and spends as much time making memories with her grandchildren as possible. After she retires, she plans on attending more walks and going to an international conference on sea turtles.
What is amazing is how working with sea turtles really facilitated Rhonda’s acclimation to Florida. As she puts it, “sea turtle people are a special group, always willing to share knowledge and experience.” It allows people to feel grounded and to “forge a sense of connection with the world around us.”
Rhonda related that her greatest achievement with STPS has been watching it grow. She has innumerable fond memories but remembers one particular night. As they observed a nest emergence scouting the beach, a beautiful lightning storm flickered distantly over the ocean.
Having volunteered for many years, Rhonda has gained wisdom. In groups you will have many individuals all with their own opinions and ideas. It’s best, as she puts it, to let that “fall away” in order to achieve the common goal. We are a group of volunteers that helps an endangered animal survive, she says, and one that swims countless miles only to return to Brevard County every nesting season.