Middle-grade novelist Kristin O’Donnell Tubb suggests a brilliant holiday gift inspired by the sea

“What should I get the kids for Christmas?”

Several years ago, I was on the phone with my sister, and this question was one I’d tried to answer for other relatives already. But the fact was, my kids needed nothing. (And we’re very grateful for that.)

So, I suggested an alternative: “How about donating to a charity instead? I think you can ‘adopt’ a sea turtle—maybe look into that?”

And that’s how our journey with the Sea Turtle Conservancy began. They mailed us an awesome welcome packet, along with a certificate of the turtles we adopted, Pearl and Calypso Blue, and two shiny Christmas ornaments. And then they told us how we could log in and watch where our turtles swam.

Yep. You can watch your turtles swim across the globe! And my kids LOVED it. They’d race home from school, wanting to know where their turtles were “today.” (The monitoring feeds don’t update quite that frequently, but we could get an overall sense of how far and fast they were moving.) My oldest was so enthralled, she did a science project on her turtle, Pearl.

And it is truly fascinating. If you ever thought of a turtle as “slow,” I invite you to check out a sea turtle’s path! I watched each turtle go, bit by bit, wave by wave, and thought, That’s exactly how a book comes to life. Bit by bit.  Those turtles and I knew stamina.

Calypso Blue’s journey, throughout 2012 and 2013 (map: Sea Turtle Conservancy)

There are currently 28 turtles being monitored by the Sea Turtle Conservancy, which says on their website, “Since our founding, STC’s research and conservation initiatives have been instrumental in saving the Caribbean green turtle from immediate extinction, as well as raising awareness and protection for sea turtles across the globe with nearly 60 years of experience in national and international sea turtle conservation, research and educational endeavors. The organization began its work in Costa Rica, but has expanded its research and conservation efforts throughout Central America and the Wider Caribbean.”

The Sea Turtle Conservancy does amazing work, and I proudly chose it as the recipient of my 2018 A4ED school visit contribution, both for their mission, and because it’s a program kids love. Plus awwwwthe turtles are adorable! Visit them and watch them GO! Bit by bit. Wave by wave. Just like us writers.

Kristin O’Donnell Tubb is the author of several award-winning middle-grade novels, with such diverse characters as a Civil War drummer boy, a service dog and even a con artist. Selling Hope, The 13th Sign, and A Dog Named Daisy earned prestigious peer-given SCBWI Crystal Kite Awards. See all of Kristin’s books and try out her 6-Second Writing Tips at www.kristintubb.com.

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