The November Bitterroot Audubon program melds together the crisis facing Sea Turtles in the oceans around the world and one woman’s unique effort to aid in their conservation. Kathleen Sheard, who is a nationally recognized wildlife glass artist, describes herself as
“a mountain woman and wildlife advocate with an ocean soul.”
She became interested in Sea Turtles in the early 2000s. She discovered that all seven species of Sea Turtles are threatened or endangered with one species, the Kemp’s Ridley, being critically endangered and that their habitat has been quickly deteriorating due to oil spills, plastics, toxins, shrimp boats without sea turtle extruder nets, third world countries harvesting sea turtle eggs and killing sea turtles, humans running four wheelers over marked sea turtle nests, beach lights left on during nesting season, beach furniture left on beaches, and other man made obstacles contributing to the death of sea turtles and other marine wildlife. Sea turtle hospitals, refuges and conservation organizations have been established around the world to aid in their rescue, rehabilitation and conservation. Kathleen started volunteering on the “Alligator Point Sea Turtle Patrol” in Florida in 2008. Her first experiences included drowned sea turtle nest eggs due to tropical storms in 2009. Then came the BP Gulf Oil Spill in 2010. Her focus went from doing “pretty” cast glass sea turtles to the environmental degradation of the sea turtle species.
She began to create an educational project which grew into a multi- medium conservation sculpture entitled, Cycle of Life: Sea Turtle Glass Sculpture – Environmental Art Education Project. It incorporates over 60 multiple glass cast and fused components on a custom built 5’x6’x21″ wooden base. Three years in the making, the cast glass sculpture includes a life-sized mother Loggerhead Sea Turtle, a fused and slumped sea turtle nest with cast eggs and hatchlings of all seven sea turtles species, fused glass oil sludge sections, plastic and other debris. She assembled a team of artists from around the U.S, to assist her in creating the sculpture, which was finalized in 2017. The goal is to house the sculpture in a non- profit sea turtle facility whose objective is to teach about marine conservation.
Kathleen’s program will focus on the plight of Sea Turtles and the process of creating the “Cycle of Life” Sculpture. She will bring some “parts” of the sculpture, which were used in studies and tests. In addition a new conservation cast glass sea turtle and other turtle artwork will be on display. For the purpose of fundraising for this project, Kathleen will bring glass sea turtles for sale and will happily accept donations.
COME JOIN BITTERROOT AUDUBON, MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20TH, 7:00 P.M. AT THE LEE METCALF NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, LOCATED NORTH OF STEVENSVILLE ON WILDFOWL LANE FOR THIS PROGRAM. THE PUBLIC IS INVITED. Contact Kay Fulton (360-8664) for more information.