Jackie Kingston earned an M.S. in Biological Sciences from Florida Atlantic in 2006 and used the skills she learned at FAU to form an organization called Sea Turtle Adventures that could contribute to conservation efforts.
What inspired you to start Sea Turtle Adventures?
I wanted to leave my corporate career that I had held for 15 years to pursue something that I was passionate about. Although I had been involved with sea turtle conservation efforts since 1998, when I formed Sea Turtle Adventures (STA) in 2016, I was able to create programs and revenue streams, as well as seek grants so that I could leave my corporate career and make a meaningful contribution to conservation. I was also able to create nature-based programs for adults with special needs.
What is the aim of your organization?
The mission of STA is to conserve local populations of sea turtles, educate the public about the marine environment and provide nature-based programs for adults with special needs.
How did FAU help to prepare you for this career?
FAU had a huge impact in helping me pursue my efforts to stay in the field of sea turtle conservation and also create a non-profit organization. During my two years at FAU, I learned a tremendous amount of information on sea turtles and biology. I also learned and refined my verbal and written communication skills, team building skills, prioritization of tasks, networking skills, research skills and more. Additionally, I was a teaching assistant and was responsible for teaching students during introductory biology lab classes.
What research did you perform at FAU?
I completed my master’s thesis project. I designed the study, collected and analyzed data, wrote a manuscript and published a study in a peer-reviewed publication:
Lorne, Jacquelyn K and Michael Salmon. 2007. Effects of exposure to artificial lighting on orientation of hatchling sea turtles on the beach and in the ocean. Endang Species Res. Vol. 3: 23–30.
Did you have a mentor/role model at FAU? How did they inspire you?
Michael Salmon [Ph.D., Researcher Professor, Biological Sciences] led me through my master’s thesis. He was always supportive of my research ideas, and he had a great critical eye to challenge my plans and assumptions which made me become a better biologist. He also was a great editor and helped me become a stronger writer.
Why are you so passionate about sea turtles?
I have been passionate about sea turtles since I was 13 years old, at which time I began volunteering weekly at Loggerhead Marinelife Center. I find sea turtles to be incredibly interesting and complex animals, and there is so much to still learn about them. I have wanted to become a marine biologist since I was 10 years old. I thought studying one type of marine animal was the best path to success and would help keep me focused and motivated.
What do you want people to know about sea turtles to help promote conservation?
Sea turtles are an incredible indicator of the health of our oceans. And there is still so much we can learn about them! So many questions remain unanswered about these creatures which I feel is very encouraging to future students and budding marine biologists who want to make an impact in the field.