National Park Service (NPS)

NPS honors Ruth Fordon for volunteer work

Ruth Fordon in her official turtle-patrol vest. Photo by Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Cape Hatteras National Seashore is honoring Ocracoke’s Ruth Fordon for her commitment to its sea turtle nesting program during National Volunteer Week, April 15 to 21.

Fordon, a full-time Ocracoke resident since 1988, assists with turtle strandings, nest sitting, early morning turtle patrols and raking out vehicle tracks so that newly hatched turtles don’t become trapped there on their first trek to the ocean.

Fordon first volunteered with the Seashore for turtle patrol in 2003, according to a press release.

“I love the early morning solitude of the ocean side and treasure those daybreaks when sea turtle tracks are found moving onto the sandy beach,” she said.  “Locating the nest, digging to ascertain that indeed eggs were deposited, and then all the labor to properly outline the turtle nest area for protection from intruding feet and vehicles brings a feeling of deep satisfaction to me. I have also had the privilege of nest sitting and witnessing a boil (turtle hatching event), that amazing moment when the hatchlings depart the nest in masses and head to the ocean.”

Fordon assists with the turtle patrol alongside Seashore biologists.

“Ruth’s devotion to the sea turtles has been invaluable to both the community and the Seashore,” said Lead Biological Science Technician Jocelyn Wright. “Ruth even helped to train me at my first sea turtle nest 10 years ago. It has been a pleasure to work with her all these years and I’m glad to have this opportunity to recognize her amazing contribution.”

In addition to volunteering, Fordon has several jobs on the island. She is an agent with Ocracoke Lightship Realty, she works for the Ocracoke Observer and runs her own photography business.

In August and September, the Seashore offers park visitors opportunities to observe excavations of recently hatched sea turtle nests. During an excavation, biologists will dig up the hatched nest, count empty eggshells, and collect unhatched eggs for research. 

Cape Hatteras National Seashore welcomes volunteers. To view a list of current volunteer opportunities, visit www.volunteer.gov, or call 252-475-9042 for more information.

Sea turtle eggs. Photo: Ruth Fordon