Network for Endangered Sea Turtles 24 HR. HOTLINE 252-441-8622

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

** 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.

NESTers!  We are thrilled to announce our spring 2023 classes back in person this year!! (We have one Orientation offering online to get the season started but the rest are in person so we can get back to hands-on and group discussion formats.) Below the summary list you can find detailed descriptions of classes with advice on who should take which class. Note that spring classes are for those interested in doing early morning nesting response. If you are more a ‘late-night’ nest sitter-type, your trainings will be offered later this summer but feel free to attend an Orientation class this spring. 

NEST Spring 2023 Training Schedule

To make reservations for any class, go to .  Select your class, click sign up, and then click the “Sign Up Without an Account” option. (Volunteers with TrackItForward accounts can sign in and register for a slightly faster process. If using your phone App, use the menu in the upper right corner to toggle to “Events”).

Class   Date Time Location
Orientation & Natural History   22-Mar 6PM Kill Devil Hills
Orientation & Natural History   25-Mar 4PM Zoom
ATV Safety & Mechanics   19-Apr 6PM Corolla
ATV Safety & Mechanics   22-Apr 9AM Southern Shores
Nesting Response 101   4-Apr 1:30PM Corolla
Nesting Response 101   22-Apr 10:30AM Southern Shores
Nesting Response 101   30-Apr 2PM Nags Head
Nesting Response 201   4-Apr 4PM Corolla
Nesting Response 201   22-Apr 1PM Southern Shores
Nesting Response 201   30-Apr 4:30PM Nags Head

N.E.S.T. Orientation & Natural History
(Required for new volunteers. Optional for returning.)
This class will go over the how to get involved in NC sea turtle monitoring activities from the VA/NC line south to Nags Head. We will then discuss some general biology and life history of sea turtles in NC. This class is intended for new volunteers though all are welcome.

Nesting Response 101
(Required for new volunteers. Returning volunteers may attend the classroom portion but the beach simulation portion will be reserved for new volunteers only.)
This class will introduce how to identify nesting crawls by species, how to locate eggs, and how to complete a nesting response report. We will begin with an hour in the classroom followed by an hour on the beach.

Nesting Response 201
(Required for returning volunteers. Returning volunteers may alternatively attend the classroom portion of 101.)
This class will briefly review identifying nesting crawls by species and locating eggs. We will then review some of the more difficult cases and have open discussion about other challenges.

ATV Safety & Mechanics
(Required of all ATV riders who already have an assigned route and those who are subs. ATV riders must attend a Nesting Response session as well if they wish to participate in nesting response.)
This class is for N.E.S.T. ATV riders. We will review basic ATV mechanics and go over safety procedures.