Within the Ecology Project International (EPI) community, we are continually inspired by the diverse ways our supporters channel their gifts and passions into conservation. Today, we're thrilled to spotlight one such supporter who has just launched an exciting new initiative in art and conservation!
Meet Kathleen Sheard, a talented glass artist with over four decades of experience creating stunning, handcrafted glass art. But her creations go beyond aesthetics – they encapsulate her deep-rooted love for wildlife and her unwavering commitment to conservation, as showcased in her many pieces that feature species and ecosystems from across the globe.
Through this work, she developed a calling to get more active and hands-on in the conservation efforts that support her subjects, and to join forces with the organizations that protect them, including EPI's Pacuare Reserve. During a recent visit to The Reserve, she participated in and learned more about the organization's sea turtle conservation efforts.
A benefit for species across the globe
In her latest endeavor, Kathleen Sheard is crafting an exclusive line of coasters to spotlight various wildlife conservation organizations she supporters. Each coaster will showcase a distinct species chosen by the partnering organization, with one-third of sales proceeds directly benefiting their causes.
Alligator Point, Florida
Alligator Point Sea Turtle Patrol is a nonprofit volunteer organization that monitors and protects threatened and/or endangered sea turtles on the shores of Alligator Point, Florida. The organization works to rescue and transport stranded sea turtles, and educates the public, schools, organizations, news media, and other groups about the species that inhabit their area.
In addition to serving as nesting grounds for several species, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Alligator Point area is one of the world’s largest feeding grounds for the Kemp’s ridley turtle, the rarest and most endangered of all sea turtles.
EPI/Pacuare Nature Reserve, Costa Rica
Pacuare Reserve is home to one of the most important nesting beaches in the world for leatherback sea turtles. It is also the only beach on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica that has not shown negative trends in the success rate of hatchlings. During nesting season, The Reserve’s staff and researchers work around the clock, monitoring nests and relocating those under threat to the hatchery. Once the eggs
have hatched, they are safely taken to the beach and released to the sea.
Hawaiian Hawksbill Conservation, Hawaii
Hawaiian Hawksbill Conservation is dedicated to advancing the scientific understanding of the critically endangered Hawaiian hawksbill sea turtle, in an effort to aid in its local and global conservation. The site encourages visitors to upload photos of Hawaiian hawksbill turtles, so their unique scale patterns on their heads and flippers can be analyzed. Once individuals are identified, their movements, behaviors, and species abundance is better understood. The site now houses over 1,000 photographic sightings of the species, and has more than 360 individuals logged.
Friends of Haystack Rock (FOHR), Oregon
Friends of Haystack Rock (FOHR) is a non-profit organization that promotes the preservation and protection of the intertidal life and birds that inhabit Haystack Rock and its surrounding biodiversity. Haystack Rock is one of Oregon’s most iconic landmarks, known for its picturesque views and thriving tide pools teeming with starfish, sea anemone, crabs, sea slugs, and other intertidal life. The Rock is also an important nesting site for sea birds including the tufted puffin, whose populations have faced significant declines worldwide. This area is protected under U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a seabird nesting colony and under the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife as a Marine Garden.
FOHR provides financial support and facilitates education, restoration, and advocacy for the ecosystem at Haystack Rock in an effort to preserve the area for future generations. The organization frequently hosts puffin watch beach cleanups to educate the public and protect the area’s diverse marine life.
Texas Sealife Center, Texas
The Texas Sealife Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of stranded or injured coastal and aquatic wildlife. Their work with sea turtles, sea birds, and native reptiles helps wildlife recover from serious injuries resulting from instances like boat strikes, fishing hook and net entanglements, and cold stuns.
In addition to its wildlife rehab efforts, the center also focuses on educating and promoting public
awareness in wildlife conservation efforts.
Orangutan, OVAID – Orangutan Veterinary AID Field Work Borneo & Sumatra Based Cornwall, UK
Orangutan Veterinary Aid (OVAID) is a volunteer-run charity dedicated to providing veterinary equipment, medicines, and practical veterinary presence and assistance to orangutan rescue groups and centers in Indonesia and Malaysia. All three species of orangutans are critically endangered, largely due to deforestation and habitat loss.
The charity works to improve resources and the welfare of rescued orangutans, and to spread awareness of the negative effects of deforestation for the orangutan and other wildlife.
The Olive Ridley Project, Maldives
The Olive Ridley Project works to prevent the decline of sea turtles and safeguard their habitats through rescue and rehabilitation, scientific research, and education/outreach.
While working as a biologist in the Maldives, Dr. Martin Stelfox came upon waves of olive ridley sea turtles entangled in fishing nets. Hoping to trace the nets’ origins, Dr. Stelfox reached out to fellow biologists. This curiosity and inquiry led to the organization's founding and expansion, including achievements such as opening the first veterinarian-run
marine turtle rescue center in the Maldives. The organization now influences local policy makers and fishing communities, and partners with research institutes.
Care for Hedland, Australia
The Care for Hedland Environmental Association operates in Port Hedland, Australia, a coastal township composed of diverse ecosystems which house an abundance of marine and birdlife. Care for Hedland delivers conservation-based volunteer programs and activities for the Hedland community, which are divided into four key areas: flatback sea turtle monitoring, recycling and waste prevention, gardening and sustainable living, and education and advocacy.
The Association acts as an effective conduit for the communication of environmental and sustainability information into the community and provides a forum whereby business, industry, government and community can discuss barriers, opportunities, and solutions to sustainable development for Hedland and the Pilbara.
Brevard Zoo/Sea Turtle Healing Center, Florida
Brevard Zoo, in partnership with the Sea Turtle Preservation Society (STPS), opened its Sea Turtle Healing Center in April 2014. The nearby beaches of Brevard County, located in Melbourne, Florida, make up the largest sea turtle nesting site in the United States, and one of the most important nesting areas in the world. The Healing Center treats around 100 sea turtles each year for various injuries, usually
human caused, such as boat strikes and entanglement in or ingestion of fishing materials or plastic. The center’s staff provide the turtles with a combination of medication, surgeries and nutrition to nurse the turtles back to health and, ideally, release them back into the wild.
Now's the time to support these amazing organizations! Check out the limited edition wildlife coasters, available for purchase online through Icefire Glassworks, and follow the Kathleen Sheard Conservation Fine Art Facebook page to see how the project unfolds!