By Christine Galeone, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Did you know that six of the seven species of sea turtles in the world are considered to be threatened, endangered or critically endangered? Sadly, humans have played a significant role in the reptiles’ predicament. Hunting, fishing, pollution and coastal development have all contributed to the problem.
Fortunately, a group of teens from Westborough are determined to have a positive impact on the creatures’ lives. This summer, the Congregational Church of Westborough Youth Group will embark on a mission trip to Costa Rica to participate in sea turtle conservation efforts.
Wendy Reardon, director of Children and Youth Ministries at the church, said that her students are deeply concerned about this planet’s future. The mission trip will give them a chance to raise community awareness of the global threats to the oceans. And it will help the students be part of the solution.
“We have been researching and learning about the real problems that we are facing environmentally and the real actions that each one of us can take to have a positive and dramatic impact on our planet,” Reardon explained. “As mission trip team members, youths will have the opportunity to gain real world experience, expand their international perspective on environmental awareness and explore the natural world in a meaningful and responsible way.”
The students will assist biologists and conservationists working to protect fragile ecosystems and the four species of sea turtles in Costa Rica that are in need of protection. To help the leatherback, green, olive ridley and hawksbill sea turtles, the mission trip team members will spend two weeks building hatcheries to protect eggs from predators, counting and tagging sea turtles, locating nesting females and collecting eggs. They will also replant mangroves and patrol and clean the beach that they are assigned to.
In addition to preparing for the rigorous demands of the volunteer work, the students are also trying to raise the money needed to fund the travel, accommodation and food expenses for all 24 members of the team. With the goal of raising $54,500, the teens have helped to generate fundraising ideas. They’ve also been involved in facilitating the fundraisers, including selling tickets for the Friday, Feb. 21, adults-only “Medium, Music and Mission” event at John Boyle O’Reilly Knights of Columbus Hall in Westborough featuring psychic medium entertainer Gary McKinstry and music by The Cardinal & Jack.
The team has also been raising awareness of environmental issues.
“We have inspired our friends, families, schools and church to think more responsibly, going beyond recycling programs and into being responsible consumers…like no single-use plastics,” Reardon said. “We have discovered just that one decision can change the world.”
Empowering the team through such discoveries is another vital part of the mission.
“It is my hope that this mission trip will help us all to discover that each one of us has the power to change the world, one decision at a time,” Reardon shared. “We just have to choose to do it.
As faithful followers of Jesus, we must act.”
To learn more about the youth group’s mission trip and to help fund the trip, visit the group’s page, Mission Trip 2020 Sea Turtle Conservation at www.gofundme.com.