¬†Jan Holloway (Left) and Janet Fincannon (Right)
Administrative Coordinator (Jan) and Program Assistant (Janet)
¬†Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Jordan Gray: What is your earliest childhood memory with a turtle or tortoise?
¬†I was a super lucky kid growing up. We lived on about 80 acres in a very rural area of upstate NY, and there were two large ponds on our property. From a very early age, I'm guessing about 3-4 years old, I became fascinated with the pond and the wildlife in it. My older brothers would take me to the pond armed with nets and buckets to try to catch a variety of critters including frogs, minnows, newts, and turtles. Turtles were like the "big prize" to get because there weren't as many of them in the ponds. Most common were Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta), and when we'd get one, I'd take it to the house and keep it for a few days, watching and learning about them. We'd always then release them back into the pond.
¬†When I was a little kid, maybe in 3rd grade, I would find little Red-eared Sliders in the ditch behind my house. I would pick them up and marvel at how beautiful and tiny they were. I loved their cute little faces and expressions; they looked so happy. And when I put them back, they would swim away, little legs just a-going!
JG: Have you ever kept any turtles and tortoises, and if so, what type?
¬†I have kept turtles several times in my life, usually when someone didn't want theirs anymore, and I'd take it in. I've kept Red-eared (Trachemys scripta elegans) and Yellow-bellied (Trachemys scripta scripta) Sliders, and I also had a Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata) for a very long time. She was my favorite turtle that I've ever had. Sadly, I don't have any turtles at the moment....but I'm thinking that may change now that I'm working with the TSA! I've never kept a tortoise, but I've always loved them. So we will see...
Yes, my then-boyfriend, now husband, was on an early morning Easter Sunday walk and found a tiny Red-eared Slider, no larger than a quarter. He brought it to me to keep until it was old enough to have a better chance of survival. The next day, I went to the pet store and told the man in the pet store I needed everything to keep a small slider healthy and happy. The man told me the turtle would have become bird food if it were left out. So, he went around the shop, collecting an aquarium, water conditioner, food, a light, a rock, etc. and, $85.00 later, I walked out of the pet store. I named the turtle E.T. for "Easter Turtle," and for "E.T.," the extra-terrestrial from the movie. Needless to say, I bought quite a few larger aquariums as the months went on. Eventually, we went to a neighborhood pond (lots of turtles there) and released E.T. It was a bittersweet day. The most amazing part of the release was: as he was swimming away, he looked back, as if to say, "Thanks, Mom!".
JG: What are your goals and what excites you about working with the Turtle Survival Alliance?
¬†I'm thrilled to be a part of such a wonderful organization that works to preserve so many species of rare and endangered turtles. I'd say my biggest goal is to learn all I can about the various species TSA works with. I've now gotten to be around so many types of turtles and tortoises that many people, including myself, never even knew existed, and that's super exciting to me.
¬†My goals are to do everything I can to make the TSA more well-known, to grow our membership, and to help the TSA staff and members however needed. I get excited when I help a member and receive positive feedback from them. And, equally so when I assist a non-member who is so appreciative for that assistance that they donate money to the TSA in my honor. THAT makes me excited and happy.
JG: What attracted you to become part of the Turtle Survival Alliance?
¬†When I saw the job position advertised, I literally felt my heartbeat increase. I really can't describe it, but I just knew I had to be a part of this organization, and its mission. I mean, seriously...how many people can say they go to work every day to help "save the turtles." I love it when I'm wearing one of our company's shirts, and people ask me about it. Most automatically assume we work with sea turtles. They're usually so surprised and intrigued when I explain to them that's not what we do, and I tell them of the many types of turtles and tortoises we DO work with in our programs. I see it as such a wonderful opportunity to educate and inform people of something they never knew about turtles!
¬†I have always wanted to have a position where I actually did something for a cause I believed in. When this opportunity came, I applied, interviewed, and the rest is history! The fitting part about it is, even before the TSA, I loved turtles. I have turtle earrings, turtle-shaped garden stepping stones, a stuffed animal turtle, turtle wood carvings, and turtles you-name-it!