Math Tutor's Dream: Sea Turtle Conservation

“If I had the opportunity, I would do the same.” Many had told me this when I had initially started telling friends about my summer plans. This struck me. I was chosen out of all the other applicants for this program… and here I am bailing on my summer aspirations because I can not afford it. After all the countless hours applying to all the job listings on seaturtle.org, redoing cover letters and resumes, coordinating dates, calculating different ways to cut spending costs, and undergoing a huge move from one city to another, I was throwing in the towel.

There was no way to go on this trip without pulling out a personal loan. I am a math tutor and a full time student. A loan just doesn't make sense. After confiding in a good friend of mine, they told me that I was crazy for giving up and that there may never be an opportunity like this again. I was sort of slapped back to reality from my recent deflation on the topic. I wasn’t going to give up on this trip. This was something I needed to do or I would forever regret that I didn’t.

39220242_155851087371726_r.jpeg39220242_1558509954991552_r.jpegWho's behind the text? This happy girl! ^^^

“What an opportunity,” became my motto. I am Christina Humphrey, a 23 year old transfer student who is soon to attend Cal Poly SLO’s Engineering Program in Fall 2019. I was hired as a research assistant for a new conservation project starting on the Oso Peninsula of Costa Rica. COPROT Sea Turtle and Community Development Project is just getting on their feet and has been preparing to welcome their first crew of research assistants for the sea turtle nesting season. Leatherback sea turtles and many more different species will be crawling up along the beaches at night to lay their eggs. I will be on the project for 3 months starting in June and ending in September. This position is not a paid position, my lodging accommodations and some food fees are covered instead.

There is so much work to be done on the project. I will be one of the main drivers for the development of this science program. Not only is the project based off of the study of sea turtles, but it also has a strong focus for the locals to get more involved with the project as well. Here are a few things, of the many, I will be doing on the project: undergoing night beach patrols for 6-8 hours searching for nesting sea turtles, daily beach clean-ups, tagging and inputting data for nesting sea turtles and their hatchlings, building a greywater system, starting a sustainable garden to feed us on base, traveling to local communities to show why conservation is important to be involved with.

Poachers are people who kill sea turtles for their shells or steal their eggs to sell. In a lot of cases most poachers are local to sea turtles nesting habitats, they are more likely to be locals. Now, they are not to blame for this of course, because well... this is how they survive. This is their living, and more likely how their families have lived. It is important for us all to see that our actions on other species can be highly damaging and potent more than we know. 

This trip means a lot to me. Costa Rica has pulled at my heart strings since I last visited there. I did a high school trip, for two weeks of ecotourism with Ecology Project International when I was a sophomore. On the plane ride back  after it was over, I watched the lush trees disappear from my airplane window sill. I cried, a lot. It was the best time of my life getting to see so much nature and be apart of saving the world in small ways. The plane went father away and just before the clouds were to block my view I vowed to come back to Costa Rica at least one more time. It is now almost 7 years later and I am keeping my promise to little 15 year old me crying in an airplane.

A video I made for my trip back in 2012. 

More background about me:

Since I was a young girl I have always loved nature and my family has always been very involved with outdoor activities. I was originally born on Guam, a U.S. territory. I remember being on the beach looking through the sand with my mom for these little tiny stars called "star sand." My dad would bring me tropical coral reef fish in a bucket. Almost every day was a beach day there. I moved to the Bay Area in California when I was 5 years old. Our vacationing was camping, we would stay for long periods of time out in the Sierra Nevadas fishing, swimming in the lakes, dirt biking or hanging out around a fire. Just being out in nature brings me so much peace. 

When preparing to graduate high school, I had always been thoughtful about approaching my upper division education. I knew going to a four year college right off the bat for me was not an option for my family. I decided to go to  a community college near my home town. There I struggled in classes due to working too much. I failed a couple classes and eventually was only working, always just barely making my monthly rent. I decided that ultimately I needed to choose between a well supporting job or my upper division education that would move me closer to a career. I decided to cut my spending costs, work less, and moved to Santa Barbara to attend their well accredited community college. 

Currently I tutor for advanced mathematics at Santa Barbara City College as well as mathematics for kids in middle school. I now am now a recent graduate student from Santa Barbara City College with multiple associates degrees. I am preparing to transfer to my dream school, California Polytechnic University in Industrial Engineering. Looking back on my journey with school and how hard I have worked to get to where I am at, I am very proud of who I am.

Some things that this GoFundMe is intended for:

1. Raising awareness for programs that are dedicated to not only preserving wildlife, but also finding ways to incorporate more local awareness on the environment that surrounds them. Also, while you’re here, look up the definition of ecotourism. Maybe it will inspire you to take on a new trip, like it did to me.

2. Helping out with funds needed to make this 3 month trip possible. Things like: transportation fees getting to/from base, expedited passport fees, storage fees for my stuff back home while I am away, money for food, specialized compact backpacking gear for humid hot climates, biodegradable wash kits, waterproof alarm watch, waterproof red light headlamps, travel insurance, adaptors, solar charger for when there is no electricity, medical kit

3. Making a dream come true!

***Any unspent fee's made from this GoFundMe will be given to the conservation project!***


I will be keeping this GoFundMe Fundraiser going until June 19th, 2019. Even if you have no funds to offer, you can still help me! Share this link to my GoFundMe on your page! I think that spreading the word is just as important as donating. I appreciate you reading this and for having a the slightest bit of curiosity to visit my fundraising page. 

39220242_1558510648440432_r.jpegThank you to everyone reading this!


BIG THANK YOU'S TO: 

-NASA and their program National Community College Aerospace Scholars Program for allowing me to switch my onsite visit days. I am so proud to have been invited to one of your many wonderful sites! 

-My mom for helping out with as much as she could <3 love you mom! 

-My school teachers who all helped me throughout community college and offered me Letters of Recommendations. I wouldn't be the person I am without you all. 

-California Polytechnic SLO's Administration and Admissions for accommodating my trip dates! 

-All my friends and family who push me to pursue my dreams no matter how hopeless it feels. You all are my support system and I am so grateful to have you in my life.
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Organizer

Christina Humphrey 
Organizer
Santa Barbara, CA
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