When 20-year-old Rebecca Tripp was invited to Florida to study endangered animals, she jumped at the opportunity. The senior elementary education major at Ball State University traveled to the sunshine state in early March with a team of 12 students to research manatees, seahorses and sea turtles for a children’s book series called “Conservation Tales.”
“I have always loved animals, especially sea animals, and when I heard about this trip where I would get to combine my love of animals and children I knew it was a gift from God!” Tripp said.
The Pittsboro native, who grew up appreciating the importance of early education (her mom is an elementary music teacher) will help to ensure the books are at the appropriate reading levels for students in grades 3-5. The team traveled to Crystal River and Mote Marine in Sarasota to get up close with the animals.
“It was so cool to get to see just how big but lovable these creatures (manatees) are. I also really enjoyed talking with all the staff at Mote. I am involved with the Sea Turtles book and we were able to watch a training session with the turtles and talk to some of the staff that is involved with turtle rescue and rehabilitation,” explained Tripp.
She particularly enjoyed meeting a friendly sea turtle named Harry.
The book series was created by Ball State biologist and author Tom McConnell and art professor Barbara Giorgio-Booher. It is designed to help students understand endangered animals and the importance of protecting these species.
“It is an awesome opportunity to see so many people with such amazing talents.”
To learn more about the Conservation Tales project, visit www.conservationtales.com.
By Lindsay Doty