Ken Baughman (C’12) spent the summer of 2011 on the beach at Topsail Island, North Carolina. But he wasn’t there for rest and relaxation. He was working as an intern at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, helping injured turtles and experiencing marine biology fieldwork firsthand.

While there, Ken became particularly fond of a young Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle nicknamed Vonda K. Vonda got her name from the charter fishing boat that inadvertently caught her on a hook and line. After the boat’s captain called with the news, Ken and another intern picked her up and brought her back to the rescue center, where she was treated for her injuries and is making progress on her way back to robust health. 

Ken also enjoyed working as part of the Topsail Island Sea Turtle Patrol, combing the beach searching for turtles’ nests, gently relocating those in danger of being swept away by high tides, and helping make sure the newly hatched baby turtles—as many as 80 at a time—made it to the shoreline once they doffed their shells. Ken commented, “It was an amazing opportunity to see things I’d learned about in the classroom occurring in our daily work in the field—both in terms of conservation principles and the scientific aspects.”