Answer: With a little help from caring volunteers. Two classes from the veterinary technology program at the Minnesota School of Business- Rochester (MSB) worked together to complete a very interesting applied learning project. The six students and their instructor traveled to the Whitewater State Park in Altura, Minnesota, to help assist baby Blanding’s Turtles cross the road.
Why do these turtles need help crossing the road?
According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Blanding’s Turtle was classified as a threatened species in Minnesota in 1984. Loss and degradation of upland and wetland habitats, and mortality on roads are great threats to the species.
Whitewater State Park is home to around 5,000 Blanding’s Turtles. In June the female turtle leaves the marshlands of the park and travels to a sandy area to lay her eggs. The eggs begin to hatch in early September and the juvenile turtles emerge from the shells. These turtles now have to leave the sandy dune area and return to the marsh in order to survive.
Therein lies the challenge for these baby turtles. Whitewater State Park has a busy road that divides the sandy dune area from the wetlands, so the turtles have to cross the road. The park enlists the help of volunteers to patrol the road side and assist the baby turtles to the other side to avoid any mishaps.
The veterinary technology students patrolled a 1.5 mile area of the road looking for turtles to assist. If a turtle was found, it was recorded in order to assist the park in tracking the Blanding’s Turtle population.
Student Joe Hurst noted, “While walking back and forth on the road, all I thought about was how long the journey was that the baby turtles had to take. Picking up the baby turtles and helping them cross the road was a great feeling, knowing that their trip wasn’t a big waste but a gateway to a beautiful life.”