Volunteers / Training

N.E.S.T Volunteers

Sea turtles are one of the Earth’s most ancient creatures. The seven species that live today have been around for 110 million years, since the time of the dinosaurs. Five species – Loggerhead, Kemp’s Ridley, Green, Hawksbill, and Leatherback – can be found along the coast of North Carolina. Now the very survival of all sea turtles is either threatened or critically endangered due to among other things, entanglement in fishing gear, poaching and illegal trade, coastal development, marine debris, global warming, and ocean pollution.

In order to combat these threats N.E.S.T. needs your help on the Outer Banks in protecting sea turtle nests and hatchlings, rescuing injured sea turtles and reaching out to the public about the challenges to sea turtle survival.

Join One of Our Turtle Teams

  • Nesting Response Team
  • ATV Crawl Patrol Team
  • Nest Sitting Team
  • Cold Stun Stranding Response
  • Rehabilitation Team
  • Education Committee
  • Fundraising Committee
  • Board of Directors

Training is mandatory for all active NEST volunteers. Because sea turtles are protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), anyone handling a sea turtle or sea turtle eggs must have an ESA permit. You can get a permit once you attend training classes.

Training is available during certain times of the year in:

  1. Nest identification and verification
  2. Nest sitting
  3. Turtle stranding and rescue
  4. Turtle rehabilitation **
  5. ATV beach nest patrol
  6. Marine mammals

Go to http://www.ncwildlife.org/Learning/EducationCenters/OuterBanks/EventRegistration.aspx to sign up for training. Once you become a volunteer you will receive regular emails about training opportunities and N.E.S.T. activities.

** All S.T.A.R. Center volunteers shall be subject to all regulations, procedures and policies as set forth by and applicable to the North Carolina Aquariums and the NC Department of Cultural Resources. N.E.S.T. assumes no responsibility or liability for S.T.A.R. Center volunteers.

NEST Spring Training Schedule 2020

Due to the evolving COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak and CDC recommendations, we are cancelling all scheduled trainings for the spring.  We are working on alternative webinar options and will re-post the schedule once we have details worked out.

Orientation and Sea Turtle Natural History

This training covers how volunteers can become involved in NEST activities followed by an overview of the life strategies of sea turtles and the species we see in North Carolina coastal waters.  Who should take this training? New volunteers or those looking for a review. (Orientation is only required to be attended once but all are welcome anytime. Volunteers may take other trainings before Orientation if they are unable to fit an Orientation prior to their desired Team Training but should plan to attend an Orientation soon after.)

  • 4-April-2020 at 5:30PM in Kill Devil Hills
  • 9-April-2020 at 5:30PM in Southern Shores
  • 13-April-2020 at 9:30AM in Corolla
  • 28-April-2020 at 4:30PM in Nags Head
  • 13-Jul-2020 at 4:30PM in Corolla
  • 21-Jul-2020 at 8:30AM in Corolla
  • To register, click here or call 252-453-0221 ex. 1.

*New!! Nesting Response Pre-Training

This training covers identifying signs of nesting (crawls), distinguishing species by crawl-type, locating eggs, and taking nest measurements. Who should take this training?  Volunteers who have responded to 2 or fewer nests last year should take a Nesting Response Pre-Training and Nesting Response 101. Pre- training must be completed before attending Nesting Response 101.

  • 4-April-2020 at 6:30PM in Kill Devil Hills
  • 9-April-2020 at 6:30PM in Southern Shores
  • 13-April-2020 at 10:30AM in Corolla
  • On-Line Option to be available by April 1
  • To register, click here or call 252-453-0221 ex. 1.

Nesting Response 101

This training is for new nesting response volunteers (those who wish to help respond to late night and early morning sea turtle nesting activity).  Training takes place on the beach and volunteers practice responding to a simulated sea turtle nest.  Participants complete a Nesting Response form and practice identifying crawls, locating eggs, and taking nest measurements.  Who should take this training?  Volunteers who have responded to 2 or fewer nests last year should take a Nesting Response Pre-Training and Nesting Response 101.

  • 25-April-2020 at 9:30AM in Corolla
  • 28-April-2020 at 5:30PM in Nags Head
  • 9-May-2020 at 5:30PM in Nags Head
  • 20-May-2020 at 9:30AM in Corolla
  • To register, click here or call 252-453-0221 ex. 1.

Nesting Response 201

This training is for seasoned returning volunteers to the Nesting Response Team.  Nesting response procedures and updates to the nesting response form will be reviewed followed by an enrichment topic on nesting behavior and biology.  Who should take this training?  Experienced returning volunteers who responded to 3 or more nests over the past two years should take Nesting Response 201.  New volunteers are welcome to stick around for Nesting Response 201 after attending 101 if desired.

  • 25-April-2020 at 11AM in Corolla
  • 28-April-2020 at 7PM in Nags Head
  • 9-May-2020 at 7PM in Nags Head
  • 20-May-2020 at 11AM in Corolla
  • To register, click here or call 252-453-0221 ex. 1.

ATV Safety and Crawl Patrol

This training is for volunteers who patrol the early morning beaches for evidence of nesting turtles on ATVs.  It covers ATV mechanics, safety, and reporting processes as well as crawl identification and documentation.  Who should take this training?  All ATV riders (new and returning) are required to take this onsite training.

  • Dates TBD
  • Vacant routes will first be filled by volunteers with nesting response experience and then any remaining openings will be open to the general membership.

Nest Sitting 101

This training is for new and less experienced nest sitting volunteers (those who wish to help monitor nests with hatchlings soon-to-emerge).  This training covers nest monitoring techniques, public communications, and hatchling documentation.  Who should take this training?  New volunteers and those who have sat on less than three nests or those who want the detailed training should attend Nest Sitting 101. Volunteers who have sat on three or more nests over the past two years may attend Nest Sitting 201 in lieu of 101.  New volunteers are allowed to stick around for Nest Sitting 201 but they should plan to also attend 101.

  • 13-Jul-2020 at 5:30PM in Corolla
  • 21-Jul-2020 at 9:30AM in Corolla
  • more dates will be set once nests are laid
  • To register, click here or call 252-453-0221 ex. 1.

Nest Sitting 201

This training is for seasoned returning volunteers to the Nest Sitting Team. The training briefly reviews nest monitoring techniques, public communications, and hatchling documentation followed by an enrichment topic around nest development or emergence biology.  Who should take this training?  Experienced Nest Sitting Volunteers who have sat on three or more nests over the past two years should attend Nest Sitting 201.  New volunteers and those who have sat on less than three nests should attend Nest Sitting 101.

  • 13-Jul-2020 at 5:30PM in Corolla
  • 21-Jul-2020 at 9:30AM in Corolla
  • more dates will be set once nests are laid
  • To register, click here or call 252-453-0221 ex. 1