Intern ‘fascinated by turtles’ finds work with them enjoyable, rewarding


Intern Candice Faith visits with Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center patient ‘Seastar.’

Submitted photo
Published: Thursday, June 20, 2013 at 12:09 PM.

One of the tenets of our mission statement is: “To provide an experiential learning site for students of biology, wildlife conservation, and/or veterinary medicine from around the world.” To that end we offer a 12-week college level internship. Those chosen for this highly sought-after position spend the summer working closely with our staff and patients, experiencing firsthand just what it means to commit blood, sweat and tears to every sea turtle coming through our doors. Over the next few weeks you’ll get to meet each of this year’s six summer interns.

Have ‘Faith’

First up is Candice Faith, a native of Shreveport , La. , and a 2012 graduate of LSU-Shreveport. Candice actually applied for our internship last year, but during our review process she was offered a position at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida in their Naples wildlife clinic. Her 40-hour week there entailed working to rehab a variety of critters native to that area, including birds (about 80 percent) and reptiles (mostly turtles.)

Sea turtles are a fascinating species, quite unlike other turtles, so our approach upon admittance varied a bit from what Candice was used to. Unless a turtle has obviously life-threatening wounds our first concern is to settle it in an isolated, quiet place until it decompresses from the stress of rescue and transport. Even though we consider each admit an emergency we’ve learned that reducing stress if often the best thing we can do once a turtle comes through the door. Now, after a few weeks observing their behaviors Candice has come to fully appreciate and see the wisdom of “why we do things the way we do.”

Candice has always been “fascinated by turtles,” especially by the navigational skills and gracefulness of our sea turtles. She’s already seen that each of our patients has a distinct personality and has remarked on their amazing ability to rebound from injury and illness. But it’s a fact of life that no matter how hard you work to make a critter better sometimes you just don’t succeed. While in Florida Candice took a class on euthanasia because she wanted to learn enough about the process to feel confident that it was the right move. Though it never made things less heartbreaking for her she did begin to feel “OK,” knowing that it was the best and very last thing she could do for a suffering animal.

Although we still have a boat load of patients who didn’t make the cut for the June release our interns have yet to experience the typical uptick in sick and injured turtles that pour through our doors beginning around now. With less time required for daily treatments their efforts have been redirected to keeping the current patients healthy, our hospital physically running (mention “water system” to any of them and they cringe!) and also getting the new building fluffed and buffed for our grand opening. No matter what she’s doing Candice says it’s a great feeling being with a group of people who all want to be here and are all working towards the same goals. She’s excited about being in the first “graduating class of interns” from the new hospital and is looking forward to the move and the many changes in store for all of us.

To date Candice’s most memorable experience came during the release when she said she was “totally in the moment, and time seemed to slow down” as she waded through the surf with a little green in hand. She realized then what a consuming passion we have for what we do, and why. She advises that anyone considering our internship know that the position “is a tremendous opportunity, not to be taken lightly. Be fully committed and the work is enjoyable and rewarding.”

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