Published on March 9, 2021

Teen Homeschoolers "Head-Starting" Rare Turtle Species at Oak Knoll

Zaynab holding her head-started Blanding's Turtle named "Enndleton Francis Jones II"

Zaynab with her turtle 
"Enndleton Francis Jones II"

Oak Knoll's teen homeschool participants have been caring for wild Blanding's Turtle hatchlings since September 2020 as part of the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) Turtle Repatriation Project.

Blanding's Turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) is a rare, semi-aquatic freshwater species that requires different types of wetland habitat throughout its life cycle. The species is listed as "threatened" in Massachusetts and is currently being considered for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Our students have shown incredible diligence and dedication to this important conservation work!

"Head-starting" these hatchlings requires students to feed them, conduct health and weight checks, measure shell growth, and collect wild aquatic invertebrates from streams that they then train the turtles to eat.

Thanks to this excellent caretaking, these Blanding's Turtles are on track to gain the substantial weight they need in order to survive in the wild!

The head-started individuals that meet the requirements will be released by USFWS scientist Stephanie Koch in June 2021.

Watch this video to learn more about the importance of this program and its impact on students.

Alana holding her head-started Blanding's Turtle named "Bullseye"

Alana with her turtle "Bullseye"