It’s been a long six months for each of us, yet we have been hard at work and want to share what we’ve accomplished at Turtles Fly Too to prepare for the future, and more specifically, this fall which we are concerned may prove to be one of our most difficult seasons yet.
First, we need to thank so many of our volunteers who have contributed countless hours to help Turtles Fly Too in so many areas, from specialized Apps for mobile phones to sign up Turtle Fliers, to the volunteers that organized our Fly-Ins this year, to the Turtle Fliers who have flown missions in spite of COVID-19, and to our Advisory Board, which we recently expanded, all who have been working tirelessly behind the scenes.
We are still flying missions and providing transport for seals, turtles, and a whale disentangle-ment team while implementing extra precautions. We owe a debt of gratitude to our “Turtle Fliers” and volunteers that include Ken Andrews, Tim Green, and Joe Murray from Kent State, who covered one of our Jekyll Island releases, and Sophie Costa and Bonnie Barnes, our volunteer staff, who drove from the Florida Keys to film the release of the turtles at Jekyll Island in May. We had assistance from new Turtle Fliers’ Warren Brown, his wife Bethany, and daughter Lily, from Spicewood, TX, who flew Tsunami from Jekyll Island to St. Louis Aquarium (click here for highlights), and veteran Fliers (and new Advisory Board members) Paul and Sherry Schubert, who flew Quasimodo to join Tsunami. And most recently Brian Cleary, and Ed Filangeri, who transported the disentanglement team from Massachusetts to New York and back.
We are continuing to assist in endangered species rescue operations from coast to coast, with two upcoming missions that includes an international transport, hopefully by mid-September.
We are becoming more official as an organization, thanks to one of our long-time supporters, Bonnie Barnes, a seasoned non-profit executive who found herself unemployed and has helped us achieve the following major goals:
- Developed a five-year strategic plan
- Developed an annual marketing plan
- Set up a customer/donor/volunteer/grant management system through a donated license of Salesforce, merging multiple databases to streamline what we do
- Setting Salesforce up to track pilots, planes, missions, payloads, and flight segments
- Setting TF2 up to track, report, and recognize in-kind and cash donations
- Worked with our accountant to connect QuickBooks to the donor management system
- Wrote, Designed, and prepared marketing materials to include:
- New letterheads & business cards
- TF2 branded shirts and hats
- Corporate solicitation program for support
- General donor and pilot recruitment brochure
- Upgrades to website
- Our first newsletters – April, June, and this one, August
- Live, in-person coverage of releases in Jekyll Island
- Regular social media postings by her and Sophie Costa
- Setting up TF2 on MS365 and One Drive so that we can share files across the continent
- Researching and writing grants to benefit TF2
In addition, we are in the process of drafting a Turtle Flier manual to standardize procedures and are working with a volunteer Robert Baran, out of Washington State, who is writing new software to capture mission details so that we can better report the work we do.
As we come out of COVID, we recognize the organization has expanded beyond what volunteers can accomplish. We are concentrating on raising dollars, seeking corporate support, and applying for grants so that we can continue to provide our unique service to the organizations that count on us every day to transport endangered species for long-term rehabilitation and release.
We are extremely concerned that this fall may become the most difficult winter we’ve experienced as everyone’s resources, including the nonprofits that provide emergency services and stabilization of the sea turtles; our pilots whom have personally been affected; and the rescue centers that traditionally care for the turtles long-term have been impacted by COVID-19 and continue to be impacted, and support is needed by each of us to survive. Without support from people who care, conservation in all aspects will take a huge hit.
You are the heart and soul of this organization. We are asking your help in any way you feel comfortable. Share our Facebook, Instagram, and/or LinkedIn pages. Talk with others about what we do. Connect us to a corporation or foundation that we can talk to about Turtles Fly Too. If you can assist financially by contributing, we would greatly appreciate your support.
Why do I care? Our environment is changing exponentially. We are losing species that our grandkids will never have the opportunity to enjoy. I do what I do for my grandkids and your grandkids. I want them to have the opportunities that we have. Nothing less is acceptable.
We’ve all been through a tough time and we want to personally thank you for being a part of Turtles Fly Too. Remember … “Like” us on Facebook and continue to support our missions. Every little bit helps and is greatly appreciated.
Leslie J. Weinstein