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** Archived Article - please check for current information. **

Feb. 12, 2013

SC sea turtle volunteer recognized at international symposium

Betsy Brabson of DeBordieu Beach, South Carolina received the highest honor in volunteerism on Feb. 8 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ed Drane Award for Volunteerism was established in memory of Ed Drane who was treasurer of the International Sea Turtle Society (ISTS) for more than 20 years.

Betsy Brabson is a volunteer for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) as Project Leader for the DeBordieu/Hobcaw Nest Protection Project. She leads 21 volunteers whose activities include: daily surveys conducted on foot, nest relocation and screening and nest inventories. She has surveyed these beaches during the sea turtle nesting season for 20 years, and she does it in her spare time after being a successful business owner, mother, and wife.Betsy Brabson

One day in 2003, Betsy noticed an aggressive invasive plant growing on the dunes creating a thick covering of vegetation, which prevented a loggerhead from digging a nest. Once she realized she had discovered beach vitex, she organized researchers at Clemson University and USDA to form the Beach Vitex Task Force, which now includes North Carolina and Virginia. As Coordinator of the Task Force, she pursued funding which allowed them to conduct eradication, produce educational materials, build a web site and conduct region‐wide workshops to educate residents and the nursery industry. In 2009, she organized a large fundraiser to purchase a digital radiograph machine for the South Carolina Aquarium animal medical facility, which treats sick and injured sea turtles. Most recently, from 2010 – 2012 Betsy organized and led a group of workhorse volunteers to help the DNR address sea turtle nest depredation by feral pigs on a state-owned island. The data collected by Betsy and her team acted as a catalyst for the State to increase feral pig control and has taken a non‐productive loggerhead nesting beach to a productive one in three years. She is exceptionally organized, energetic, thorough and easy to work with. DNR is honored to have such a volunteer on our team.

Ed Drane's passion for the sea turtles and his commitment to the ISTS and its international mission were both energizing and inspiring. This award is presented to a person who is working outside their professional life who voluntarily commits a significant portion of their time, energy, and passion to the conservation of sea turtles. They do not seek academic or monetary credit for their efforts, but they make a significant contribution to the study and conservation of sea turtles.

About the DNR Sea Turtle Program: The DNR Marine Turtle Conservation Program is responsible for managing and protecting sea turtles in the state of South Carolina. This program has several all-encompassing components: management, monitoring, research, and education. More specifically, this program implements management techniques to mitigate activities that may impact sea turtles and provides training and support to more than 1,100 volunteers across the coast. Volunteers protect nests and document sea turtles that wash ashore (strandings). DNR staff members also perform necropsies on fresh dead strandings and respond to live strandings in need of medical care.

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