Rick Richards, Jr.: River Steward

“Small towns are generally smack in the middle of nature,” observed Dr. John W. “Rick” Richards, Jr., “and my hometown of Kershaw, South Carolina, was no different. I spent most of my summers, and much of the shoulder seasons at Lake Wateree down stream from the Catawba River:  catfishing, frog gigging, skiing, and swimming. When I was 15, my parents decided to build a cabin at the lake and challenged me to design and build it. They bought a ski boat and told me that if I recruited friends to help and we worked from 8am-6pm, my friends and I could ski from 11am-2pm.  My parents saved on labor, bought many, many gallons of gas, and my friends and I spent a lot of time at the lake over the next three years building the ‘River Cabin,’ which is unchanged and still being used today – 50 years later.”

Having grown up on the lakes and rivers of northern Georgia and South Carolina, it’s no wonder that Rick feels a close connection to the region’s waters and uses his philanthropy to protect them.

Throughout Rick’s life he’s always sought out water – as an undergraduate, a medical student, during his posting at Ft. Gordon while in the Army, and later when settled in Augusta as a faculty member at the Medical College of Georgia. The Richards family spent a lot of time at Lake Thurmond and by 2005 had decided to move there. After several months searching for lake property, they found land offering a sweeping vista of the Savannah River and the Sumter National Forest beyond.

The water quality on Rick’s section of the Savannah is very good. “The river temperature is a bit chilly for a lot of watersports but fishing and boating go on year-round,” says Rick. “One issue that I have become aware of is the need for better enforcement of erosion control laws. Due to uncontrolled runoff from new developments, even those well away from the shoreline, a portion of the Savannah became clogged with silt very quickly. We need to protect the river for all its users, wildlife included.”

After teaching at MCG for seven years, Rick began a new phase of his life as a “serial entrepreneur” in fields including health promotion and disease prevention, health data management, medical consulting, and cost containment. His business successes inspire his philanthropy.

One environmental group supported by Rick’s philanthropy is the Savannah Riverkeeper (SRK). Riverkeepers generally work at the grassroots level to protect everyone’s right to clean water.  They do this by focusing on the health and well-being of a specific watershed and the communities it supports. As the primary guardian of the Savannah River, SRK’s challenge is significant.  The organization works to protect a river system that spans nearly 400 miles with stakeholders in two states.  All of Georgia’s six Riverkeepers are part of the Waterkeeper Alliance, founded in 1999 by Robert Kennedy and a group of fishermen who set out to clean up the Hudson River in New York.  The movement took off, and now there are over 300 Waterkeeper organizations worldwide.

Rick’s connection to SRK began when he saw the news that burglars had stolen all of the organization’s computers during a break-in. “I was in the process of replacing my work computers so I took equipment to the Riverkeeper office and helped them get back to protecting the river again.” In addition to his financial support, members of Rick’s Boy Scout Troop have partnered with the SRK on a number of Eagle Scout Leadership Projects.  The Scouts of Troop 643 (Evans, GA) erected information kiosks at boat/kayak/canoe access points on the river, installed fishing line recycling bins at boat landings, cleaned and placed trash receptacles in access areas, cleaned the shoreline of Lake Olmstead, built an outdoor classroom at Phinizy Swamp and even painted and landscaped the SRK office building.

“The people who are employed by environmental groups could choose to work where they would earn a lot more money; yet, this is their calling. They make a financial sacrifice to do great things — what I call ‘God’s work.’” Rick continued, “I want this community to thrive and so do they. When they need additional funds and/or labor to accomplish what we all are trying to achieve, all I have done is offer a bit of help.”

Rick Richards shares his lifelong love of rivers with his family and his community. “The closer I can get to water, the more appealing it is to me. Walking along the river or simply sitting and watching it roll by has such a calming influence. It connects one with the world beyond….”

The Gopher Tortoise: A Catalyst for Conservation

When a conservation initiative protects an at-risk species and business and industry interests at the same time, it’s a win-win for Georgians across the board.  The Gopher Tortoise Initiative does just that.  Supporters for this collaborative effort include federal and state agencies, private landowners, non-profits, donors and business leaders from the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.  The consortium’s goal is to permanently protect 100,000 acres of gopher tortoise habitat across Georgia’s coastal plain, preventing Georgia’s state reptile from getting to the point of needing to be listed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as an endangered species. Though early in the effort, the group is already delivering uncommon results.

The problem for gopher tortoises is habitat loss. Tortoise populations need large parcels of undeveloped land and only remnants remain of their native longleaf pine and sandhill ecosystems.  In the face of increasing fragmentation from development – roads, parking lots, and buildings – they can’t find sufficient burrow space or food and are more likely to experience risks associated with close contact with humans and their vehicles.  “They get pushed from the small patches of suitable habitat to the sandy roadsides of timberlands or agricultural fields,” explains Jason Lee, Program Manager for Coastal Nongame Conservation with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. “It is dire.  In 20-30 years they could be pushed out altogether from many areas…gone.”

The tortoises are considered a keystone species because their burrows provide shelter and refuge for hundreds of other species of animals, including the Eastern indigo snake, the gopher frog, and many small mammals, insects and birds. When the tortoise populations decline, so does the habitat of  many other plants and animals.

If the tortoise population was at the point of needing to be listed under the Endangered Species Act, significant regulatory requirements could drain energy, resources and enthusiasm from efforts to facilitate the species’ recovery. The Gopher Tortoise Initiative unites landowners, timber growers and businesses across the state to proactively enhance gopher tortoise populations and habitats.  The result is a powerful convergence:  everyone’s working together to prevent the listing.  What’s good for the gopher tortoise is good for landowners, businesses, and an entire ecosystem. If successful, they will also be conserving iconic habitats on a historic scale, demonstrating how tortoises, landowners, and industry can coexist.

With generous commitments of financial resources and expertise from founding team members including U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy, The Conservation Fund, and conservation donors including the Knobloch Family Foundation and the Bobolink Foundation, the Gopher Tortoise Initiative is well on its way. “We are more than half way to our goal,” said Jason Lee. “Thirty six of the sixty five properties we have identified as suitable tortoise habitat are now under conservation easements or have been acquired fee simple. One of our most recent acquisitions, the Altama Wildlife Management Area, located on the coastal mainland along the south bank of the Altamaha River, currently has a population of 182 tortoises with room for the population to expand.  Another property just up river, Sansavilla, has 400 tortoises.”

“Our goal is to protect gopher tortoise habitat now, while lands are still available that can be managed to sustain healthy populations,” said Lee.  He explained that the investment we make today in protecting their habitat will eliminate the need for costly impact studies and mitigation that could be required in the future if the gopher tortoise is listed as an endangered species.  “We have a rare opportunity in that we have time to fix this,” he said.  “It’s good conservation.”

“The gopher tortoise habitat won’t recreate itself,” said Lee. “Management efforts will be necessary, such as prescribed burning, removal of woody undergrowth, longleaf pine tree planting, and restoration of native grasses, and there are costs involved with that.” The Gopher Tortoise Initiative includes the establishment of a fund that will be used to help cover the costs of habitat restoration.

Carl W. Knobloch, Jr., a philanthropist and major supporter of the Gopher Tortoise Initiative, who passed away in 2016, believed “the preservation of natural ecosystems is critical to the continued economic strength of the country, as well as the health of all Americans.”  The Gopher Tortoise Initiative presents the opportunity for donors, large and small, to invest in the preservation of a rare species and, at the same time, an entire ecosystem.  From co-investment in the Initiative’s land protection goals to operating support for the non-profit partners, there’s a place for everyone to make a meaningful contribution.  For a list of participating organizations, click here.

Reese Thompson: Longleaf Co-Investor with Deep Roots

As a finance major at the University of Georgia (’77), Reese Thompson took part in a commodity markets class trip to Chicago where he visited the trading floor of the Chicago Board of Trade. In Thompson’s words, “There were 6,000 people on the trade floor, more than the small town of McRae, Georgia where I was raised. It was a beehive of activity. I was smitten.”  Not surprisingly, upon graduation Reese caught a ride to Chicago where Merrill Lynch hired him as a runner on the trading floor. There began a career in commodities trading. And yet, Reese always found his way back home to Wheeler County and the family’s farm where he managed to stay connected to the land.

Reese’s initial return to the family farm was under difficult circumstances.  After his Father suffered a heart attack, Reese returned home to help his brother, Frank, with the farm. They worked through the early eighties planting and burning longleaf, challenged by a long period of drought. Reese would return to Chicago and his fascination with commodity markets, but he eventually decided to make the family farm his home.

When asked about his longleaf “conversion experience,” Reese explained, “When I turned 50, thirteen years ago, I began wondering what my purpose in life was. After several people helped me understand the uniqueness and richness of biodiversity in the longleaf ecosystem, I decided my mission in life was to protect, enhance, and restore the longleaf that I had been entrusted. Planting longleaf is the closest to immortality that I will achieve. I had rather be remembered by family and friends as a good steward of the land, than CD’s in a bank.”

Restoration of longleaf requires a significant investment of time and financial resources. “A day on a tree farm is long.  And there is the cost of seedlings and wiregrass plugs, equipment and fuel,” said Reese.  “But I enjoy it.  The work is grounding and it gives me a sense of satisfaction for doing something good.”

“Reese’s passion is genuine,” said Dirk Stevenson, Longleaf Savannas Initiative Director for the Orianne Society, a group that works to conserve critical ecosystems for imperiled reptiles and amphibians. “There is a lot of support out there for managing land to benefit game species such as deer, quail, and turkey.  It’s not every day that you meet someone who is committed to helping non-game species like salamanders, tortoises, and snakes.”

The Orianne Society, which helps to conduct prescribed burns on the Thompson property, brings students and researchers to conduct surveys of the endangered Eastern indigo snake and other species on the land. “The family is so generous in sharing their time and energy,” added Stevenson.  “After we’ve worked all day out in the field, they feed us a magnificent dinner, including Pam’s homemade desserts, which the students love.”

Reese Thompson’s longleaf restoration work is significant.  But it becomes more important when seen in the context of his “neighborhood” in Wheeler County.  Reese’s brother, Frank who is also a longleaf conservationist, owns property adjacent to Reese. The Alligator Creek Wildlife Management Area is adjacent to Frank’s property.  Alligator Creek WMA was permanently protected in 2016 by the State as part of the Gopher Tortoise Initiative.  When you piece together ecologically managed private land holdings like the Thompson properties and land acquired and managed by the state, it helps create critically important corridors of good habitat for species like the gopher tortoise and Eastern indigo snake with scale.

In recognition of his vision and dedication to conservation, the Longleaf Alliance recognized Reese with their Landowner of the Year Award in 2016 and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region will recognize Reese as their Landowner of the Year in May 2017.

Private Philanthropy Fuels Applied Research at Wormsloe

A highly collaborative restoration effort is underway at Wormsloe, a historic plantation site on the Isle of Hope near Savannah, Georgia.  Entering its third year, the objective is to restore a native, maritime longleaf pine community and monitor effects of sea level changes on this rare habitat. Longleaf pine communities were once dominant across the coastal plain and they support a great diversity of plant and animal life, an estimated 100-300 species per acre.  This long-term restoration and research effort will inform future conservation taking place along the Georgia coast.

The project is funded by philanthropists Craig & Diana Barrow and the Wormsloe Foundation.  The Barrows are long-time donors to coastal conservation efforts and they’ve been particularly supportive of applied research – scientific inquiry designed to inform real-time conservation practices.  Craig Barrow observed, “As the ninth generation to own and live at Wormsloe, we have a very strong sense of stewardship. Diana and I believe that if Wormsloe is going to exist for future generations it has to be driven by research and education.”

Wormsloe’s longleaf restoration project has been made possible with assistance from the Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center, the Longleaf Alliance, and the Georgia university system. “It is a multi-disciplinary effort,” said Sarah Ross, Director of Education and Research for the Wormsloe Foundation. “The State Botanical Gardens of Georgia in Athens supplied us with 4,000 seedlings.  In addition, we collected seeds from native understory species on the nearby barrier islands of Sapelo, St. Catherines, and Little St. Simons.”  Jon Calabria, Assistant Professor at the UGA College of Environment and Design heads the restoration team.  Landscape architects from the Odum School of Ecology set up research plots to study seedling survival rates and the success of different native grasses in the understory. Students from Savannah Country Day School, whose science program partners with Wormsloe, planted left over seedlings on their campus.

“We are also using emerging research tools to create 3-D models to forecast the effects of changing sea levels on longleaf,” said Ross.  “With this research, we are getting the type of data that will enable us to ask and answer more sophisticated questions about the impacts of sea level rise.  This will inform and help guide conservation efforts elsewhere on the coast.”  Three years in, the project is coming along nicely.  “We’ve had our first prescribed burn and the seedlings are doing well,” reports Sarah Ross, “They are looking green and robust.”

This type of applied research and similar projects conducted at Wormsloe is a vital component of coastal conservation.  Lessons learned from these projects will inform conservation management practices, restoration efforts, and policy making.  The Barrows’ commitment of charitable resources to this type of research has great implications that extend far beyond the boundaries of their property.

Crowdfunding Produces Win for Shorebird Conservation

Thirteen donors joined forces in a crowdfunding effort to raise $10,000 toward equipment needed for shorebird conservation on Cumberland Island.  The concept emerged during the 2016 Conservation Donors Roundtable when it was announced that the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) had awarded $75,000 for the first year of a 3 year collaborative shorebird conservation effort led by Georgia DNR’s Non-Game section.  With NFWF funding and in-kind support from partners the project had everything needed for Year 1 except a four wheel drive all terrain vehicle (ATV) for use on Cumberland Island and trail cameras.  An ATV is essential for covering Georgia’s longest beach — nearly 18 miles.  High definition, infrared cameras are needed for placement near nests to confirm cause(s) of breeding failure or success.

With the donated funds, a new Kawasaki 4×4 “Mule” was purchased and delivered to Tim Keyes of Georgia DNR’s Non-Game section along with nine Cuddeback E2 IR Long Range Trail Cameras.  The beautiful thing about crowdfunding this type of project is that every dollar matters.  Gifts ranged from $250 to $2,000 and included matching grants from two private foundations.  The following conservation donors contributed to the project’s success:  a donor who wishes to remain anonymous, Boog & Sam Candler, Beth Holder, Wanda Hopkins, Cody Laird and the Dobbs Foundation, Jeannie Kauffman Manning, Joe Massey, Jim & Sally Morgens and the Morgens West Foundation, and David Weitnauer.

The project’s success is also due to growing collaborative efforts by the Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation (CCGF) and Stewards of the Georgia Coast.  Many thanks to Paul White, CEO of CCGF and his predecessor, Valerie Hepburn.

Crowdfunding bears out the old adage: many hands make for light philanthropic work!

Donors Learn Together: Right Whales & Philanthropy

An enthusiastic group of 55 participated in the 2nd Annual Conservation Donors Roundtable on March 9th at the A. W. Jones Heritage Center on St. Simons Island.  Co-sponsored by Stewards of the Georgia Coast and the Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation, the Roundtable is an opportunity for donors to learn together about coastal conservation and the varied ways that donors go about their conservation philanthropy.

This year’s program featured conservation efforts on behalf of Georgia’s state marine mammal, the North Atlantic Right Whale.  The speaker was Clay George, a biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Nongame Conservation Section and Coordinator of DNR’s Marine Mammal Program.

With a population estimated at roughly 450, right whales’ status as a critically endangered species is a legacy of the commercial whaling industry.  Contemporary threats include entanglement with fishing gear and collisions with ships, though the latter has been diminished somewhat by the adoption of mandatory speed limits.

Right whales spend much of the year in waters off Canada and New England but they migrate each winter to the Georgia and Florida coasts to give birth.  DNR biologists, along with their partners at NOAA, Florida Fish & Wildlife and Sea to Shore Alliance, monitor the population by flying aerial surveys and doing research from small boats.  They are particularly interested in documenting calving rates and searching for whales that arrive entangled in commercial fishing rope.  When possible, they work to free the whales by cutting away heavy rope and other gear, much of which originates in Canada and New England.  (View a dramatic video that captures such a rescue.)

When asked about options for funding right whale conservation, George explained three options.  “Georgia residents can purchase hummingbird and bald eagle license plates for their vehicles.  Donors can make contributions via T.E.R.N. (The Environmental Resources Network), the friends group which raises funds for DNR’s Nongame program.  They can also contribute directly to right whale conservation by supporting Sea to Shore Alliance, a small nonprofit that runs our aerial survey project.”

Following Clay George’s presentation, a donor panel featured Walter & Judy Hoyt, longtime donors to Georgia DNR’s Nongame program. With a shared interest in science and nature and a love of the outdoors, it’s not surprising that conservation philanthropy has been a longtime passion.  Reflecting on their philanthropy, they emphasized the importance of volunteerism with their children and observed they they’ve typically provided philanthropic support for organizations for which they volunteered first.  Having vacationed on Sea Island over the years, the Hoyts have been impressed with DNR’s nongame conservation work which is funded primarily by federal grants, license plate revenues and private donations.  True to form, Walter volunteers as a board member of T.E.R.N.  Nongame DNR’s friend’s group has become the Hoyts’ primary vehicle for conservation philanthropy on the coast.

Challenging the Storage of Coal Ash In Wayne County Landfill

Coastal residents and conservation organizations are continuing to challenge plans for a Wayne County landfill to accept up to 10,000 tons of coal ash per day from neighboring states.  This represents a more than 500% increase of their current daily intake of 1,800 tons of municipal solid waste.

The Broadhurst Landfill is nestled within a complicated system of connected wetlands and sits squarely between the pristine Satilla and Altamaha Rivers, just south of Jesup. The proposed quantity of coal ash to be moved into this small landfill combined with the hydrology of the area presents a significant threat to the region’s drinking water, groundwater and wetlands.  In addition to the massive influx of coal ash, there is concern about how to protect the surrounding wetlands from coal ash being washed off of 100+ rail cars a day at a proposed washing station adjacent to the landfill.

Coal ash storage is a problem all across the South where coal fired power plants have produced hundreds of thousands of tons of toxin-laden waste.  Much of the region’s coal ash is stored in a wet form or “slurry” in large ponds or lagoons adjacent to major rivers.  These pools are often unlined allowing contaminants such as arsenic, mercury, thallium, and selenium to leach into the rivers and underlying groundwater.  Activists all over the country are fighting to have coal ash moved from storage ponds to lined landfills.  Although the Broadhurst Landfill is lined, it is surrounded by wetlands and has a relatively high water table.  Flooding of the landfill presents the greatest risk as it would likely result in toxic coal ash washing into the Altamaha and Satilla Rivers and impairing wildlife that are regularly harvested from these rivers for food. If Broadhurst’s lining were inadequate or compromised, coal ash toxins could also leach into underlying groundwater thereby compromising the area’s drinking supply.

The Board of the Department of Natural Resources passed new rules on October 26 that regulate the storage of coal ash in Georgia.  While regulations were needed, the new rules lack necessary protections for communities living around Muncipal Solid Waste Landfills such as Broadhurst.  One Hundred Miles and fellow members of the Georgia Water Coalition are working to build support for a state legislative amendment that addresses the loophole that allows coal ash to be stored en masse in Municipal Solid Waste landfills.  This will likely become an issue of concern for local communities throughout Georgia’s coastal region.  For more information on how you can help, please visit the One Hundred Miles website:  http://www.onehundredmiles.org/coal-ash-in-wayne-county/


Coming to a Screen Near You: “Cultivating The Wild: William Bartram’s Travels”

More than two centuries have passed since the publication of botanist William Bartram’s Travels in 1791. Bartram’s descriptions of his journey through the American South between 1773 and 1777 continue to ignite the imagination of those who love nature and the thrill of discovery. In addition to Bartram’s catalogue of the region’s flora and fauna, Travels also contains some of the first written descriptions of early American society and the culture of both Cherokee and Creek Indians. A moral visionary, Bartram countered the notion of American Indians being “savage” and in need of civilization. His writings are still examined by scientists and historians seeking a better understanding of the Southeast.

A new documentary film, “Cultivating The Wild: William Bartram’s Travels,” is now in production.  Co-produced by Eric Breitenbach and Dorinda Dallmeyer, the film presents a scholarly examination of the scientist’s life and work as well as a meditation on what has come to pass in the more than two hundred and twenty years since Bartram traversed the pre-Colonial South.  The differences between the landscape Bartram experienced and described and what we know today are striking.  Sadly, the region’s natural resources have suffered mightily from neglect and exploitation. The film will make a committed stand for protecting our natural world by telling Bartram’s story and the stories of select modern day “Bartrams” – people who continue his work and philosophies today.

This independent film is being made possible by the dedication of its co-producers and the generosity of a host of donors who contributed over $30,000 by way of a “Kickstarter” campaign. With its focus on bringing creative projects to life, Kickstarter.com is one of several web-based crowdfunding platforms where entrepreneurs seek financial support for their projects and ventures from a large number of people.  It’s estimated that crowdfunding campaigns generated over $34 billion in 2015.

The Bartram Kickstarter campaign drew support from as far away as Iceland and India and included contributions from direct descendants of the Bartram family.  The project also has strong coastal ties.  William Bartram visited Wormsloe Plantation with his father, John Bartram, 251 years ago in 1765. William returned to Savannah in April of 1773 to spend a full year exploring the natural communities along the coast of Georgia. He left us with a rich legacy of our biological heritage. Reinforcing the durability of ties to William Bartram in coastal Georgia are substantial donations to this film from the Wormsloe Foundation and the Wormsloe Institute for Environmental History.

If you are interested in learning more about the project or making donations to defray post-production costs, please visit the film’s website: www.cultivatingthewild.com.


The Mixson Family and St. Catherines Island

The Lamar Mixson Sea Turtle Internship is a celebration of love and a young man’s passion for wildlife and wild places.  Lamar spent the summer of 2011 on St. Catherines Island as an intern for the island’s sea turtle conservation program.  That summer of protecting nests, collecting DNA samples, and watching emerging sea turtles brave beach crossings to fearlessly dive into the Atlantic Ocean gave him a platform to learn from and contribute to Georgia’s coastal resources.

In his memory, the Mixson family worked with the St. Catherines Island Foundation to create the Lamar Mixson Sea Turtle Internship on St. Catherines.  Since 2013, the initial gift of $25,000 has grown substantially through continued contributions from the Mixson family, friends and associates.  As of 2014, five young people have benefited from the internship, adding an extraordinary experience to their college and life accomplishments while actively participating in sea turtle conservation.


Wassaw Island, The Caretta Research Project, and a 150+ Year Family Legacy of Philanthropy

George Parsons, born in 1826 and raised in Maine, worked with his brother to build successful business ventures in southern cities, including Savannah.  Parsons was known for his strong family ties, a concern for community needs, and generosity.  Parsons established a culture of giving in his family that would be handed down through the generations and it’s left an indelible mark on Wassaw Island and continues to impact sea turtle conservation work taking place there today.

Parsons purchased Wassaw Island in 1866 as a gift for his bride, Sarah Eddy Parsons.  He went on to build a housing compound for his family and friends at the center of the island.  As the Parsons, their children, and their children’s children spent time on Wassaw Island, they developed a deep love for it and an appreciation for the island’s special character.  In 1930, with an eye toward the future, family members and others formed the Wassaw Island Trust to preserve Wassaw in its natural state.

In the 1960’s, trustees became concerned that the state of Georgia might condemn the island and open it for development or public use (Georgia had purchased Jekyll Island under a condemnation order in 1947). In response, they made arrangements to convey Wassaw to the United States for permanent preservation as a National Wildlife Refuge.  To facilitate the transaction, the Nature Conservancy of Georgia bought Wassaw Island from the Trust for $1 million in 1969 and, in turn, sold it to the federal government for the same amount. The transaction carried three stipulations.  First, the island would remain in its natural state.  Second, no bridge could be built connecting the island to the mainland.  And, finally, the Wassaw Island Trust would retain 180 acres for on-going use, including the housing compound. Not surprisingly, Parsons family trustees would soon use their influence to make the island accessible and the property available for philanthropic and conservation purposes.

In the early 1970s, volunteer herpetologists and the Savannah Science Museum launched a conservation effort focused on loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) out of a concern for the declining population.  A Parsons family member provided crucial support to the initiative, including transporting researchers and volunteers to Wassaw and providing housing.  This led to the 1972 founding of the Caretta Research Project (www.carettaresearchproject.org). It was one of the first sea turtle conservation initiatives in the country and it continues today.  Caretta’s on-going mission includes monitoring and protecting loggerhead sea turtle nests on Wassaw and educating the public about sea turtle conservation.

More than 150 years after George Parsons first cultivated within his family both a culture of giving and a love of the Georgia coast, his descendants continue that tradition by supporting sea turtle conservation with their time, personal commitment, and financial support.