Sea Turtle Volunteer Application

Dear Applicant:

Thank you for your inquiry into the 2010 season of the Hawaii Island Hawksbill Turtle Recovery Project. We will begin selecting applicants in early 2010. The following is some background information on our project and a description of the volunteer duties and requirements.

Since 1989, volunteers have assisted project biologists with monitoring, protecting, and collecting baseline data on nesting hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata). The endangered hawksbill is very rare throughout the world. Hawksbills in Hawaii face numerous threats, including non-native predators, invasive plants, artificial lights, vehicular traffic, and ocean debris. While approximately 90% of documented nesting in the Hawaiian Islands occurs on the southern coastline of Hawaii Island, only 100 nesting turtles have been tagged since 1991. Typically 5 to 15 nesting turtles and 25 to 50 nests are documented per season.

For the 2010 season, approximately 15-30 volunteers will at any given time be needed to monitor the nesting beaches from June to December (possibly later). Volunteers commit to work on the project for a minimum of 10 weeks and preference will be given to applicants who can commit to a longer term. Exceptions can be made for Hawaii Island residents who are able to provide their own housing and transportation to and from the National Park.

Applicants are not required to have prior experience working with sea turtles. Successful applicants will be self-motivated, conservation-minded, and able to get along well with others. A positive attitude, diligent work ethic, and a love for the outdoors are a must.

Turtle Volunteers must:

* Be at least 18 years of age.
* Possess a valid driver’s license (U.S. or international).
* Possess current first aid and CPR card
* Be able to commit to work on the project for a minimum of 10 weeks. Preference given to those able to commit longer. (for exceptions, see above).
* Be able to hike up to 12 miles over rugged lava terrain in difficult conditions with a 30+ pound backpack.
* Be able to hike and work in vog (sulphur dioxide emitted from the nearby volcano, which can be problematic for people with respiratory concerns).
* Be able to get along well with others.
* Be able to stay awake late at night.

Turtle Volunteer duties include:

* Camping from 6 up to 12 consecutive nights at remote beaches with a project technician or other trained volunteers.
* Conducting nightly watches (from 5 p.m. until at least 2 a.m.) to observe nesting turtles and emerging hatchlings.
* Hiking up to 12 miles (one-way) over rugged lava terrain with a 30+ pound backpack to reach field sites.
* 4-wheel driving on long, bumpy roads to reach field sites.
* Day-checking other nesting beaches on a regular basis to look for signs of turtle activity by hiking up to 12 miles (one-way) or 4-wheel driving.
* Handling adult turtles, which includes restraining, measuring, applying flipper tags, and checking for injuries.
* Ensuring that hatchlings reach the ocean by monitoring nests that are ready to hatch, rescuing stranded hatchlings, and excavating nests.
* Recording baseline data, which includes keeping a field notebook, filling out data sheets, drawing maps, and entering data into the computer.
* Controlling predators by baiting and checking live-traps daily and euthanizing mongooses, feral cats, and rats using carbon dioxide gas.
* Picking up trash and debris along the coastline.
* Photographing turtle activity if needed.
* Interacting with and educating the local community about sea turtle conservation on a regular basis both in the field and in formal presentations.
* Assisting project technicians with logistics such as equipment and camp maintenance, vehicle inspections, office work, and various other duties as assigned.
* Keeping volunteer houses clean and following all housing policy rules.(if living in housing)

Shared dorm style housing can be provided at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The housing is located near the project’s office and National Park’s visitor center in a rainforest environment at an elevation of 4,000 feet. Bedrooms are shared by multiple volunteers. A $10 per work day food stipend will be provided, although additional funds are needed to supplement this stipend for basic needs and entertainment. Furthermore, a vehicle will not be provided for personal transportation.

It can take several weeks for your application to be processed, so please be patient. You will be notified of your status by either phone or e-mail. If you are accepted, a detailed information packet will be sent to you. You must arrive at least one day prior to your orientation date, which will be scheduled when you are accepted. Transportation to and from the National Park from Hilo is provided on your arrival and departure dates.

If you have any questions or would like to find out more information, please contact us by either phone (808) 985-6090 or e-mail


Mailing Address: Hawaii Island Hawksbill Turtle Recovery Project

Resources Management Division

P.O. Box 52

Hawaii National Park, HI 96718

E-mail Address: Fax: (808) 985-6029

Thank you for your interest in protecting Hawaii’s hawksbill turtles.

2010 Hawaii Island Hawksbill Turtle Recovery Project Volunteer Application

Name: ________________________________________________________________________

Address: ______________________________________________________________________

Phone: Day ( ) ____________________ Evening ( ) __________________________

E-mail address: _________________________________________________________________

Birthdate: _____________________________________________________________________

How did you find out about this project?_____________________________________________


Why do you want to volunteer for this project? ________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________




Dates available to volunteer: __________________________ to __________________________

Predator control is a high priority of this project. Volunteers are trained in the procedure of dispatching mongooses, feral cats, and rats using carbon dioxide gas. All volunteers are required to euthanize trapped predators. Are you comfortable with this aspect of the program? YES NO

Do you possess a valid driver’s license (U.S. or international)? YES NO

Many of our sites are accessible only by 4-wheel drive. Do you have any 4-wheel drive experience? YES NO Can you drive a standard transmission? YES NO

Will you be able to provide your own sleeping bag and large frame pack?

Sleeping Bag: YES NO Pack: YES NO

Are you currently certified in First Aid and CPR? YES NO


Name and Location of Universities or Colleges Attended or Attending: ____________________


Major area of studies: ____________________________________________________________

Degrees obtained:_____________________________ Date obtained:______________________

Pertinent Courses: ______________________________________________________________


_______________________________________________ (Attach a separate sheet if necessary)

Outdoor field experience:

Describe relevant experience: _____________________________________________________



Work Experience from two of your most recent jobs:

1. Name and address of employer: _________________________________________________


Name, phone #, and e-mail address of immediate supervisor: ____________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

Your job title:__________________________________________________________________

Dates employed:______________________________ to ________________________________
Average number of work hours per week? ___________________________________________

Description of Duties: ___________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________ (Attach a separate sheet if necessary)

2. Name and address of employer: _________________________________________________


Name, phone #, and e-mail address of immediate supervisor: ____________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

Your job title:__________________________________________________________________

Dates employed:_______________________________ to _______________________________

Average number of work hours per week? ___________________________________________

Description of Duties: ___________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________ (Attach a separate sheet if necessary)


List three work or school related references who know about your qualifications for the position.
Name: ___________________________________ Title: _______________________________

Address: ______________________________________________________________________ Phone: ( ) ___________________________E-mail:_____________________________

Name: ___________________________________ Title: _______________________________
Address: ______________________________________________________________________

Phone: ( ) ___________________________E-mail:_____________________________

Name: ___________________________________ Title: ______________________________

Address: ______________________________________________________________________

Phone: ( ) ___________________________E-mail:_____________________________

Signature of applicant:__________________________________ Date:_____________________


Behind the scenes on a typical Monday at Reptiles Alive

Today is feeding day for the snakes.  What, they only get fed on Mondays?!


The Menu

That’s right.  Put your hand on your neck.  Does it feel warm?  Oh good, that means you are still alive.  Humans are endothermic that means that we have a heater inside our body to keep us a nice warm 98.6 degrees F.  What powers that heater is the food you must eat every day.

Reptiles are ectothermic or exothermic meaning “outside temperature.”  They are the same temperature inside their body as the temperature outside their body.  That means they don’t burn much food to make heat energy.  That is why we must eat much more than reptiles do.

Some of the snakes don’t even eat every week!  One snake, the Kenya Sand Boa, often goes nine months in the wild without eating!

Lot’s of people ask us what we feed our carnivores.


Fresh Ratcicles!

Since snakes aren’t to excited about the culinary delights of dog food or hot dogs, we have to resort to a morewholesome approach to their diet; ratcicles!  These are humanely killed rats from a zoo food supply company are shipped frozen.  We defrost them in warm water and its lunch time!

The baby alligator sure looks excited about his lunch.

Check out the video of the alligator and snapping turtle eating on the Reptiles Alive Facebook Page and become our fan!

Wildlife Rehabilitation Training

Get involved in helping Virginia’s wildlife!

Introduction to Wildlife Rehabilitation

Interested in helping wildlife, but not sure where to start? Join the Wildlife Center of Virginia for an introduction to ways in which you can help Virginia’s wild animals. Learn how to determine if a baby animal is really an orphan, what to do if an animal is injured, and where to get the right wildlife advice. Discover ways to get involved, including how to become a permitted wildlife rehabilitator. Discussion will also include wildlife laws, the rehabilitator’s code of ethics, and considerations on becoming a wildlife rehabilitator.
Introduction to Raising Orphaned Birds

This beginner’s course for those obtaining their rehabilitation permit focuses on the rehabilitation of “beginner” species and basics on “intermediate” species of orphaned birds commonly seen in Virginia, including: American Robin, European Starling, Common Grackle, Mourning Dove, Pigeon, Blue Jay, Northern Mockingbird, Northern Cardinal, American Goldfinch, House Finch, Purple Finch, House Sparrow and Eastern Bluebird. Natural history, identification, general care, proper nutrition, diet and feeding, housing, release criteria, and problems and solutions are all covered.
Rationalizing Euthanasia in Difficult Trauma Cases

Wildlife rehabilitators and wildlife veterinarians are often presented with train-wreck cases and expected to perform “magic” by healing the animal despite their extensive injuries. In many of these cases, the injuries are not external or may appear minor at first glance however, the injuries may impact the ability of the animal to hunt or gather food, escape predation, reproduce, perform normal behaviors, or act normally within a wild population. This lecture will present a series of terminal trauma cases presented to wildlife referral hospitals and explain the rational for the euthanasia or why the animal could not be released back into the wild.
Date: Sunday, February 28th, 2010
Time: 9:30 am – 11:30 am Introduction to Wildlife Rehabilitation
11:45 am – 2:45 pm Introduction to Raising Orphaned Birds
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm Rationalizing Euthanasia in Difficult Trauma Cases
Location: Long Branch Nature Center, Arlington, VA
Fees: $20 for Intro to Rehab; $25 for Intro to Birds, $20 for Rationalizing Euthanasia. Register for all three classes for $60. Wildlife Rescue League members receive a $5/class discount.
Registration: To register, please call 540-942-9453 or email your name, address, and classes of interest to Once received, the outreach coordinator will email a confirmation letter with directions as well as payment instructions. In order to guarantee your place in a class, pre-payment is required. Walk-ins are welcome, but are not guaranteed class manuals or certificates of attendance. Refunds are given if written requests are received five days or more prior to classes. No refunds will be given for cancellations made after the deadline or for no shows.

The Wildlife Center of Virginia, a hospital for native wildlife, teaching the world to care about and care for wildlife and the environment.

Creature Feature: Burmese Python

Burmese Python

Python molurus bivittatus

Reptiles Alive Names: “Sunshine, Moonlight, and Starlight”

Hissstory: Sunshine was abandoned at a carpet warehouse in Sterling, VA in 2000.  The store owner called us to come and get her, and she was in pretty bad shape.  We spent about a year rehabilitating her back to health.  She has been healthy and growing ever since!  Moonlight was rescued by the Virginia Reptile Rescue from a pet store that was closed down and we adopted him in 2009.  Starlight was abandoned  as an unwanted pet at the Alexandria Animal Welfare League where we adopted him in 2009.
RA Diet: Two or three frozen and then defrosted triple extra large rats every 2-4 weeks.

Range: India, Burma, and Southeast Asia.

Habitat: Pythons live in rain forests, farmlands, and fields.

Natural Diet: Burmese pythons will eat just about any mammal or bird they can fit into their stomach.

Size: Burmese pythons are one of the biggest snakes in the world.   Their average length is 9-13 feet, but the record length is 23 feet.  They can weigh over 200 pounds.

Lifespan: Burmese pythons can live over 40 years.

Reproduction: Female Burmese pythons can lay up to 100 large eggs, but typically lay 12-36. Unlike most snakes,  mother pythons will coil around eggs and twitch their body to raise the temperature and help incubate the eggs. She will not leave the eggs until they hatch.

Conservation: Burmese pythons  have become an invasive exotic species in southern Florida.  People keeping pythons as pets either illegally released their unwanted animals into the wild or the snakes escaped improper caging.  Either way, no one knows for sure the impact these giant snakes will have on the south Florida ecosystem as they reproduce and consume native animals, including alligators.

Cool Facts:
 Sunshine, Moonlight, and Starlight are all albinos, born without the black or brown pigment called melanin. The brilliant yellows and whites you see on our albino pythons would otherwise be covered over by the brown and black pigments  found on normally patterned snakes.

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  1. Reston Spring Festival

    May 5 @ 4:00 pm - 4:45 pm
  2. Mason Neck State Park Eagle Festival

    May 12 @ 11:15 am - 5:00 pm
We had a great experience with Reptiles Alive for my daughter’s 6th birthday party. Rachel arrived exactly on time, set up quickly, and immediately engaged the group of curious children. We had an impromptu dance party while waiting for last minute guests and Rachel was very accommodating. The children LOVED the show!! And my soon-to-be 11 year old wants them to come for his birthday! I highly recommend Reptiles Alive for your next event!read more

Kelly Maguire

Kelly Maguire

22:57 12 Mar 18

We just had Reptiles Alive come to our preschool and the kids loved it!! We had 4 shows over 2 days to accommodate all our children and everything went great! Caroline was very easy to work with and quick to respond to all my emails. She was our presenter too and was early each day and ready to go when the kids arrived. She really geared her show towards our audience (2-5yr olds) and had them laughing and answering her questions and touching the animals. It was perfect… we would definitely book them again!!read more

Lauren Dolinski

Lauren Dolinski

20:47 01 Mar 18

We booked Reptiles Alive for our son’s 7th birthday party. Miss Rachel put on an amazing show for the 20 kids we had over. The highlight was when my son and I had the chance to hold a long and surprisingly heavy boa constrictor named Sunflower. The show was both educational and fun for the kids, and it kept them captivated for a full hour – priceless!!read more

Rick Jandrain

Rick Jandrain

01:53 06 Feb 18

Rachel is an awesome instructor and very good with many kids. The reptiles were fascinating. This was a great birthday party for my daughter and her second grade more

Robert McKeon

Robert McKeon

23:26 26 Feb 18

We invited Reptiles Alive for our birthday party. Ms. Rachel did a wonderful job to educate the kids about the fun facts of Reptiles and also kept them entertained and focused. It’s not a easy job facing a bunch of 7-year-old boys and 3-year-old preschoolers. We highly recommend Reptiles Alive show. It’s fun and full of knowledge!read more

Tianchan Niu

Tianchan Niu

22:09 17 Dec 17

We had Reptiles Alive join us for a country club event and they did an outstanding job! Ashley was amazing and so professional. She was very interactive with the children and played the role perfectly. We couldn’t have asked for a better experience!read more

Chelsea Barb

Chelsea Barb

20:20 28 Mar 18

We’ve been working with Reptiles Alive for the past 4 years now and they show up and show out every time. Everything from booking to the day of is efficient and friendly. At our past event, presenter Liz did 6 shows back to back for our campers, which is truly impressive and phenomenal. We will continue to work with Reptiles Alive for years to come and really appreciate the work and educating that they do!read more

Lydia Vanderbilt

Lydia Vanderbilt

21:09 05 Apr 18

Reptiles Alive gave an awesome show at our elementary school! The presenter was so much fun and really engaged the children. Very cool reptiles and a great interactive meet and greet at the end. The kids loved it!read more

Jonathan Grau

Jonathan Grau

14:52 07 Apr 18

I am in charge of grade level assemblies at our school and our 3rd grade has RA in for their Rain Forest show every year to reinforce the things they have learned about in class. This is my second year working with them and I have been absolutely thrilled with the interaction to book the event and with the presenters. They engage the kids and help make them a part of the show. I can’t say enough about this wonderful program and the amazing people that work more

Kim Painter

Kim Painter

23:32 07 Apr 18

We love this show at our preschool!! The kids have so much fun and learn a lot! They are very organized and always start on time. We have always had a wonderful experience with Reptiles Alive and can’t wait to have them back again!read more

Melissa Jones

Melissa Jones

15:06 20 Apr 18